Guilty plea in Whakatane tourist attack

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Mark Wikotu, 18, pleaded guilty in the Whakatane District Court today
Mark Wikotu, 18, pleaded guilty in the Whakatane District Court today

An Opotiki man has admitted the aggravated robbery of two German tourists, who were attacked in their tent in Whakatane on Boxing Day.

In the Whakatane District Court today Mark Wikotu, 18, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated robbery and unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle.

Wikotu's lawyer, Roger Gowing, applied for name suppression to continue for his client.

He said it would be unfair to have the public outrage and anger over the attack be "reflected" on a single person if suppression was lifted.

However Judge Louis Bidois said as Wikotu had entered a guilty plea there were no grounds for continued name suppression.

Wikotu turned toward the wall as media photographers were told they could take pictures and remained that way until the end of his appearance.

He is due to be sentenced on May 7.

Four co-accused face the same charges.

Name suppression was continued for a 17-year-old male, who pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was remanded on bail until March 19 for a case review hearing.

The three remaining defendants are youths who, for legal reasons, cannot be named.

A 15-year-old girl and two boys aged 14 and 15, were remanded in Child Youth and Family residential care until February 7. They did not enter pleas.

The German tourists - a 19-year-old man and 18-year-old woman - were camping near a skatepark at the intersection of McAllister and Beach streets when they were attacked in the early hours of the morning.

Whakatane Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Standen said the couple had since returned home.

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