A Tauranga man has denied assaulting Merivale father Lance Scullin - who was found dead near his house - and plans to defend the allegation at a jury trial.
Anthony Jack Taikato, 32, who appeared in Tauranga District Court today has denied charges of assault with intent to injure, common assault and participating in an organised criminal group.
Another local man Mihaka Ratahi, 21, who made his first appearance in the same court today, is also charged with assaulting Mr Scullin with a blunt instrument, namely a piece of wood.
Ratahi, who is also faced a joint charge of participating in an organised criminal group, was remanded on bail to appear back in court on January 14 to enter pleas to the charges.
Mr Scullin, 50, was found dead in the backyard of his Kesteven Rd property on December 1.
Police say Mr Scullin was assaulted with a wooden fence paling while trying to break up a fight outside his house the night before, but did not die as a direct result of the assault.
Two other Tauranga men, Zodiac Wiremu Taikato, 20, and Shem Williams, 21, who also appeared in court today, denied a joint charge of participating in an organised criminal group.
The two men, who have also elected to defend the charge at a jury trial, and Anthony Taikato were further remanded on bail.
He is also due back in court on March 10 for a case review hearing.
Another man Lance Perawiti, 19, also charged with participating in an organised criminal group was further remanded on bail to appear back in court on January 14.
He is expected to enter a plea to the charge on that date.