Guilty plea and apology

By Melissa Nightingale

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ATTACK: Craig Rippon was assaulted and killed in November.
ATTACK: Craig Rippon was assaulted and killed in November.

One of six people accused of murdering Whanganui man Craig Rippon has pleaded guilty - and apologised in court.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to ... I'm f***ing sorry," the man said in the High Court at Whanganui yesterday morning.

He made the plea to Justice Simon France, who appeared via audio visual link.

In between hanging his head and taking deep breaths, the man shot glances at Mr Rippon's widow and two other family members, seated in the gallery.

When he left the courtroom, he backed out of the dock, keeping his eyes on the group.

Five other males appeared together earlier and pleaded not guilty to jointly murdering Mr Rippon, as well as a charge of participation in a criminal organisation. All six people have interim name suppression.

Mr Rippon, a Black Power leader, died in hospital after being assaulted at a house in Rimu St, Gonville, on November 8. Due to security concerns, only three members of Mr Rippon's family were allowed in the courtroom for the appearances, while a handful of supporters for the defendants sat in the back of the gallery.

Other friends and family of Mr Rippon gathered outside the courthouse, and several police officers were stationed on the corners.

The man who pleaded guilty was remanded to a sentencing date on June 17. The other defendants were remanded to a callover date. There is a trial set for October 25. One defendant was remanded on bail, while the rest were in custody.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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