Lance Scullin attacker to defend charges

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A Tauranga man accused of twice punching Merivale father Lance Scullin in the head the night before he was found dead in the yard at his home plans to defend the allegation at trial.

Anthony Jack Taikato, 32, of Parkvale denied a charge of assault with intent to injure in Tauranga District Court today but pleaded guilty to charges of assault and unlawful assembly.

A charge of participating in an organised criminal group was amended to one count of unlawful assembly at Taikato's last court appearance.

The common assault charge relates to an assault on another man during the same alleged incident.

Taikato, who was further remanded on bail, is due to back in court on June 16 for a callover hearing when it is expected a date for a jury trial will be set down.

His brother Zodiac Wiremu Taikato, 20, was sentenced to 150 hours community work after he pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful assembly in Tauranga District Court today.

In January Mihaka Ratahi, 21, admitted assaulting Mr Scullin with a piece of wooden fence paling the night before he was found dead at his Kesteven Rd property on December 1, 2013.

Police say Mr Scullin was assaulted with the fence paling while trying to break up a fight outside his home on November 30 but he did not die as a direct result of the assault.

Ratahi was due to be sentenced on February 13 but he failed to turn up to court for his sentencing hearing and the arrest warrant issued that day remains active.

He also faces a charge of unlawful assembly.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for a fourth man Lance Perawiti charged with unlawful assembly after he also failed to turn up to court.

A fifth man Shem Williams was sentenced to 100 hours community work when he admitted one count of unlawful assembly in Tauranga District Court on April 16.

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