A Thai woman was kidnapped, bound and detained before she managed to escape from a car boot using a chef's steel, a court has heard.

Jindarat Prutsiriporn, 50, died from a serious head injury after falling from the boot of a moving car in the suburb of Papatoetoe in March 2016.

Six of the 11 people arrested are on trial at the High Court at Auckland.

This morning, Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes said it was Seng Lek Liev who decided to kidnap Prutsiriporn.

Advertisement

But despite a comprehensive and thorough police investigation, Kayes said he couldn't tell the jury "precisely why" Liev allegedly kidnapped Prutsiriporn, although there was "certainly bad blood".

For whatever reason, Liev contacted the east chapter of the Head Hunters gang and engaged with members of a group known as the ghost unit.

"They were Mr Liev's hired muscle."

The group first tried to kidnap Prutsiriporn on February 15, 2016, Kayes said.

Members of the ghost unit waited outside the house where Prutsiriporn lived with her son and his wife on Alfred St, Onehunga.

They waited throughout the night but Prutsiriporn wasn't home.

At one point, Haurua sent the text: "Little b*** she must know uce [sic]."

In the small hours of the morning, someone called the police to complain about a group of suspicious people sitting in the dark in two cars.

Officers checked registrations and Kayes said they then abandoned their plan.

At 2.44am Haurua texted Fangupo: "F*** uce. Pigs are here uce. Don't come back."

Another text was: "The job wasn't a go ahead so we've got to find another way to hit it."

A new plan was formed two weeks later: They would kidnap Prutsiriporn under the pretence of a drug deal.

Kayes said Prutsiriporn was involved in drugs, had served time for importing methamphetamine and was on active charges at the time of her death.

At 8pm on February 29, Aphichart Korhomklang and two others went to Prutsiriporn's home where they planned to lure her into their car then turn the light on.

Kayes said this was to signal the ghost unit that she was "ready to be taken".

About 8.50pm, Prutsiriporn she came out of her house and got into the back of the black ute.

"Its at that point the Crown says the ghost unit struck."

A black Toyota Isis pulls up and she was bundled into the back of it and Kayes said she was told words to the effect of: "Don't scream or try anything or else I will shoot you. If you try anything I know where your family lives and we'll hit them."

Haurua and Vaifale then held her in the Toyota for a number of hours.

But as the sun started to rise, Kayes said, Haurua began to worry about what to do with her and sent texts asking his associates where he was meant to take her.

"Be best for us to move ASAP while it's still dark."

They took her to Haurua's house and tied her with a torn-up sheet.

Kayes said she was still loosely bound when she was found after escaping from the car boot.

But Prutsiriporn was making too much noise.

Haurua texted his girlfriend: "Baby you have anyone that you know that we could use for a couple of hours to hide this f***head?"

They decide to take her to Korhomklang's house at 9 Wayne Drive, Mangere, and at 10am on the Tuesday a text from a ghost unit member is sent: "Package delivered."

Prutsiriporn spends most of the day tied up in the garage.

Meanwhile, Kayes said, Liev was trying to organise more cars to move her.

Witness Sovanarith Ing, who is set to give evidence, was involved as Liev wanted to use his vehicle, but has not been charged.

Initially, he refused because he was worried Prutsiriporn would scream but Liev, another associate and Havea pressured him, assuring him she was bound and gagged.

They arrived at Wayne Drive about 5pm where she was put in the back of Ing's car. The ghost unit members don't go on from there, the prosecutor said.

While in the boot, Prutsiriporn found a knife and wrapped it in foam, then hid it down her trousers.

She also found a chef's steel and used it to gouge open the boot while they were stopped at traffic lights on Huia Rd, Papatoetoe.

Prutsiriporn was found nearly unconscious, barely breathing and foaming at the mouth with ties around her neck, waist and ankles.

She died in hospital two days later.

A pathologist concluded she suffered at least three major blows to the head, only one of which could be caused by Prutsiriporn coming out of the boot.

Kayes told the jurors they would need to decide:

• If she was detained without her consent.

• If they were sure she felt threatened and that fear of violence caused her to escape from the car.

• If her attempt to escape was the "natural consequences of the actions of the defendants".

• If coming out of boot contributed to her death in a "not insignificant way".

WHO IS ON TRIAL

• Sen Lek Liev - denies manslaughter and kidnapping
• Aphichart Korhomklang - denies manslaughter and kidnapping
• Luigi Havea - denies manslaughter and kidnapping
• Masi Vaifali - denies manslaughter and admits kidnapping.
• Joseph Benjamin Haurua - denies manslaughter and admits kidnapping.
• Tevita Matangi Fangupo - denies kidnapping.

THE DEFENCE:

Sen Lek Liev

Defence lawyer Mark Ryan said Luigi Havea's brother, Panepasa Havea, organised the kidnapping because the victim owed him money for drugs.

Liev did not knowingly do anything to aid or assist in the kidnapping.

Sodarith Sao was driving when Prutsiriporn escaped from the boot, he had drunk alcohol and smoked meth.

But Liev didn't know she had been kidnapped, Ryan said.

"He didn't know she was in the boot of the car. He wasn't there, there's a lack of knowledge, there's a break in the chain of causation. It wasn't foreseeable and he was remote."

Aphichart Korhomklang

Korhomklang just wanted to buy drugs and had no idea about the "conspiracy" to kidnap the victim, said his lawyer Hugh Leabourn.

The jury would have to be sure to the "very high standard" of beyond reasonable doubt that he knew about the plot.

If they couldn't be sure of that, they then also couldn't convict Korhomklang of manslaughter because if he didn't know about the kidnapping he couldn't foresee that she would die.

Luigi Havea

Text messages would be important throughout the trial, Michael Kan told the jury. The Crown had already mentioned some Havea allegedly sent.

"We do not accept that at all."

Havea was also not a member of the Head Hunters gang or the ghost unit so couldn't have been part of the kidnapping and manslaughter, Kan said.

Masi Vaifale

Vaifale was just showing up to work and brought in as "hired muscle" and once his job was done, his role was over.

He has pleaded guilty to kidnapping.

"He punched his time clock in, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, and he went home. He was done."

Munro said Vaifale was not an organiser and so couldn't be convicted of manslaughter.

Tevita Matangi Fangupo

The jury had to presume Fangupo was innocent and it was up to the Crown to prove the charges, his defence lawyer David Dickinson said.

Fangupo's defence was that he "did not commit any kidnapping".

Joseph Benjamin Haurua

His lawyer, Murray Gibson, did not do an opening statement.