Four men charged with murdering a Tauranga man who was attacked at his home have appeared in court.
Jesse Christopher Hartley, 27, of Mount Maunganui; Taonui Hiku, 25, and Witeri Ahomiro Neketai, 34, both unemployed from Te Puke; and builder Joseph Rewiri, 26, of Auckland faced a joint charge of murdering 44-year-old Gary Kimura when they appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday.
All four had previously been charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm but the charge was upgraded to murder on Friday.
Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner said the murder charge related to a serious assault on Mr Kimura at his home last October 5 and his subsequent death in Tauranga Hospital on November 16.
Mr Kimura, who was initially admitted to Tauranga Hospital, was taken to Waikato Hospital on the night of the attack with a head injury.
He remained in a coma for several weeks but was then transferred back to Tauranga Hospital on November 9 and succumbed to his injuries on his 44th birthday.
Mr Kimura, married with six children, ran Gary's Tyres in Sulphur Point for about 15 years.
Hiku's lawyer Paul Mabey QC, and defence counsel for the other three men told Judge John Clapham that by agreement with police, the post-committal conference scheduled to take place next week could be vacated and now should be held on April 12. Judge Clapham further remanded all four defendants to that date.
Hiku, Neketai and Rewiri continue to be held in custody.
Hartley was further remanded on bail.
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