THERE was maximum security at Masterton District Court yesterday for the appearance of Masterton Mongrel Mob leader James Triple M Ford at a depositions hearing.
The Armed Offenders Squad was on standby, with police, detectives, witness protection officers, Department of Courts security officers from Palmerston North and Wellington on guard, in and around the court house, which was closed to the public.
Ford, 44, was committed for trial callover in the High Court at Wellington on May 16 by Justices of the Peace Don Adams and Alan Wasmuth.
He had been the subject of several armed offenders callouts last year before he was arrested on Christmas Day in connection with a shooting in Masterton last December.
He had pleaded not guilty to a raft of charges including assault with a .22 rifle showing intent to use it, assaulting Marama Tania Whaanga using a rifle as a weapon, threatening to kill Rongo-Karae Terene Wade, intentionally causing grievous bodily harm to Rongo-Karae Terene Wade, unlawfully detaining Rongo-Karae Terene Wade without his consent and possession of explosives, a 12- gauge shotgun and .22 rifle.
He had been jointly charged with Quando Winikerei, 20, from Tokoroa, on kidnap and firearms charges, which yesterday were withdrawn by consent.
Written evidence from 15 prosecution witnesses and one exhibit were also entered before crown prosecutor Kate Feltham called Rongo-Karae Terene Wade to the witness stand.
Ms Feltham told the court that on the evening of December 21, 2004, Mr Wade was at a party with his partner Lavinia Martin at 62 Akura Road in Masterton, where he had lived for a few months last year before moving to his present address at 14 Miriam Street.
His partner and their children lived next door at 16 Miriam Street.
Mr Wade said Marama Whaanga, another woman and her children also lived at the Akura Road house.
Ms Whaanga's partner was the defendant Ford, whom Mr Wade "sort of knew" but while living at Akura Road he hadn't seen Ford, because he was "locked up at the time".
Ford, known as the little man, was the Mighty Mongrel Mob Rogues' captain.
Mr Wade said in evidence that at Akura Road one night "this gang guy" had come past in his car, fired a few shots then sped off.
After that, a .22 rifle had been brought to the house by a patched member of the gang, Quando Winikerei, who kept watch for the next two or three days.
When Winikerei left Mr Wade said he didn't see the rifle again.
In the August school holidays, Mr Wade and Ms Martin went on holiday to Turangi and were given a .22 rifle in case there was more trouble with a rival gang.
Mr Wade said he wasn't given bullets and when they returned to Masterton he took the firearm and hid it in a cupboard at his home.
He later moved it and hid it under some compost in a dried up creek near Ms Martin's house and it stayed there until Ford sent round one of his members to collect it.
"About a week or so later Ford told me he had cut it down, so it was easier to carry it around and he had ammunition for it."
In late afternoon on December 21, Mr Wade was picked by Ms Martin and Ford and taken round to 62 Akura Road "to have tea and a few drinks".
He said they were drinking from big bottles of beer, there was a "normal" party atmosphere and while he was there he drank about six bottles but there were no drugs.
"At that time he (Ford) was trying to patch me up and he gave me his patch."
The patch was a leather coat, with the sleeves cut off and made into a vest, with the words "Mighty Mongrel Mob Rogue" on the back.
"I didn't really want to put it on, but I put it on just to impress him so he wouldn't nut off."
Around midnight, Mr Wade said he went out to the gate "to check for rival gangs" but before he left the house he said Ford and Ms Whaanga were arguing.
As he went back into the house, people were leaving because things "were getting out of hand".
In the kitchen Ford was loading the sawn-off .22 ? his nephew Boyd and Ms Martin's mother, Manawai Martin, were also in the room and Ms Whaanga was sitting at the table.
When he finished loading the firearm, Mr Wade said Ford punched Ms Whaanga a few times in the head.
She fell to the ground then he gave her a "quick jolt to the head" with the rifle butt.
She ran outside, followed by Boyd and Manawai Martin and when Ford gave chase Mr Wade said he went and hid in a bedroom.
He stayed there until he thought it safe to get out and was running away from the house when he said he heard a shot and felt his left leg by the knee "give way".
He couldn't get up, and was in pain and remembers Ford coming over to him and "calling me nigger because I ran. He held the .22 to my head saying 'I should finish you here'."
Mr Wade said Ford told him to take off the patch and that he was disappointed in him because he had run away.
He told him to get into his truck, which was parked at the back of the house, all the time pointing the gun at Mr Wade's head and saying he should "finish me and take me on the highway to hell".
Ford took Mr Wade home to Miriam Street where Ford's two sons Mainline and Customline and nephew, Boyd were waiting.
Ford asked the boys if they "wanted to finish me off and he (Ford) would take the rap".
Mr Wade said Ford eventually fell asleep on the couch, and when he realised that, he told the boys he needed to go to the toilet.
Once in the room he escaped by climbing out of the toilet window and made his way, in pain and bleeding, to the dried creek bed between number 16 and 18 Miriam Street where he stayed hidden while Ford and the boys looked for him.
They eventually went away and Mr Wade said he lay in the ditch for "four, five, maybe six hours", still bleeding and unable to move.
Finally he was able to call for help and alerted neighbours who called police and an ambulance. He was taken to hospital where he had surgery for a broken kneecap.
Defence lawyer Jock Blathwayt said if Mr Wade was to be believed, there is a case to answer but it would be strenuously denied.