'Mistaken identity' claimed in attempted murder case

By Rebecca Malcolm

Two of the men accused of attempted murder say they weren't there - while a third says he was there but was "in the background", had no idea guns were involved and didn't touch them.

Justice Graham Lang is expected to sum up the case against Derek Maynard Savage, 52, Deuce Derrick Junior Evo Rua Savage, 21, and Terere Kiwaho MacDonald, 29, in the High Court at Rotorua on Thursday before the jury considers its verdict.

They are each charged with two counts of attempted murder, or alternatively discharging a firearm with intent to causing grievous bodily harm.

They have all denied attempting to murder Jeremy Patrick August and Gavin Dean Pirini, who were shot at a River Rd property in Kawerau on September 13 last year.

In his closing arguments, MacDonald's lawyer, Bill Nabney, said his client didn't go to the house to try and kill them or cause them grevious bodily harm.

He said that an hour earlier his client had been rendered unconscious after being hit with an iron bar by Mr August during an altercation at his house.

Witnesses said that hours after the attack MacDonald appeared concussed. A person suffering those affects wasn't the sort of person to be planning the attack, he said.

Mr Nabney said MacDonald didn't know there were guns being taken, and witnesses confirmed he was standing in the background behind the person or people who fired the shots.

Deuce Savage's lawyer, Harry Edward, said his client maintained he "wasn't there, wasn't involved" with the shooting incident.

Mr Edward said text messages from his phone to Mr August in the hours prior to the shooting weren't of a threatening nature. He said even if the jury believed Deuce Savage was there, there was no proof of intent and evidence around his role was contradictory and unreliable.

Tony Balme, the lawyer for Derek Savage, said it was a case of mistaken identity.

"He doesn't for one minute accept he was at [the address] at the time of the shooting."

Mr Balme said witnesses who claimed they had seen Derek Savage possibly confused him for a man of a similar description.

He said the identifications needed to be taken with "a lot of caution" as they were contradictory.

Crown prosecutor Greg Hollister-Jones said the attack came down to three crucial things - identity, participation and intent - all of which were proven.

"[It] was an intense period of extreme violence in which multiple shots were fired at the occupants of the house including the two that caused serious, life-threatening injuries ..."

He said they intended to go around there as retribution and "arrived together, burst into the house together" before firing multiple shots at close range.

"All participants were actively involved."

Deuce Savage and MacDonald are also charged with aggravated robbery a month prior to the shooting, while Deuce Savage also faces a charge of demanding $200 from a man with intent to steal it which they deny.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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