Gang members jailed for attacking witness

Two Mongrel Mob members were jailed today for attacking a Lower Hutt man, who was so scared he initially refused to testify against them.

Nevara Raymond Raheke, 37, and Tahi Jock Wikio, 30, pleaded guilty in the High Court at Wellington to blackmailing and assaulting Philip Hohipa at Naenae in September 2005.

Mr Hohipa was beaten up, threatened with murder, and forced to hand over his car to Wikio and Raheke, who believed he was responsible for the arrest of a gang prospect.

It was their second trial. The first was aborted last year when Mr Hohipa refused to testify, saying he was too frightened to give evidence. For that, Mr Hohipa was jailed for five days.

Today, Justice Simon France sentenced Wikio to three years in jail for injuring with intent.

The judge gave Wikio credit for his efforts to dissuade the main attacker -- who had already been jailed for four years -- from using a slasher on the victim.

Wikio was also given a concurrent 18 months for blackmail.

Raheke was deemed to have played a lesser role in the initial attack but joined in later, punching Mr Hohipa, who had just been savagely beaten.

The blackmail was done at his instigation.

Raheke was sentenced to two years nine months jail for being party to injuring with intent, and one year on top of that for blackmail.

Justice France told the court that the effects on Mr Hohipa were "enormous". He was scared of reprisals for testifying and had now left the area.

"The incident has turned his world upside down," he said.


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