Attack over red hoodie speculation - lawyer

By Melissa Nightingale

ON TRIAL: Raeleen Rameka in the High Court at Whanganui.
ON TRIAL: Raeleen Rameka in the High Court at Whanganui.

The suggestion Paul Kumeroa was murdered because he was wearing a red hoodie is "speculation", a defence lawyer says.

Mr Kumeroa was walking down Cross St, Castlecliff, on the night of September 23, 2008, in a red jersey, which is the colour associated with the Mongrel Mob. He had no connections with the gang.

A car carrying Clarke McCallum, Daniel Rippon, Jamie Ahsin and Raeleen Rameka, all connected to rival gang Black Power, passed him and pulled over.

McCallum and Rippon assaulted Mr Kumeroa, causing fatal injuries. His hoodie was removed before they fled the scene.

McCallum and Rippon were both convicted of murder, while Ahsin was convicted of manslaughter as the driver of the car.

Rameka is on trial in the High Court at Whanganui for manslaughter, and the Crown and defence delivered their closing addresses to the jury yesterday.

The Crown says Rameka shared a "common intention" with the group to assault Mongrel Mob associates, after a gang-related conflict earlier in the day.

But defence lawyer Elizabeth Hall said it was speculation to think the attack was gang-related, and said Rameka never shared a common intention for assault.

Ms Hall pointed to evidence Mr Kumeroa was angry, drunk and stoned when he was walking down the street, and how a witness saw him being pushed and pulled out of the group's car.

"He was trying to get into the car and he was being forced out," Ms Hall said, adding the subsequent assault could have been unrelated to the colour of his jersey, and that McCallum might have removed the jersey as an afterthought.

She pointed to evidence of at least one of the females in the car telling the men to "get back in the car", and noted witnesses had described seeing Rippon try to get McCallum back in the car before McCallum hit Mr Kumeroa in the head with a small axe.

Ms Hall said these things showed McCallum was acting "alone", outside of any potential common intention.

She also said if the group had been "hunting" Mongrel Mob members, it would make more sense for them to head to Aramoho or Whanganui East, which is Mongrel Mob territory.

Crown prosecutor Lance Rowe said common intention was demonstrated by two earlier incidents.

One involved Rameka's group following a group of cars to the North Mole and threatening them with at least one weapon, while yelling gang terms.

Ms Hall said this incident did not demonstrate common intention to assault, as no assault happened.

Mr Rowe also spoke of an incident at Gibbons Cres where Rameka saw a man she accused of breaking her jaw, and allegedly tried to get him beaten up, referring to him as an "eastsider".

The man and his friends left in a car, but not before McCallum threw a spanner through the rear windscreen.

Ms Hall said an earlier trial saw McCallum convicted of wilful damage for the incident, and the others acquitted of being party to it. She said that showed McCallum was acting outside a common intention.

Justice Rebecca Ellis will sum up the case to the jury of five women and six men on Monday.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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