A man who killed a senior Mongrel Mob member in Tauranga after shooting him twice in the back has had his jail sentence reduced by a year.
In 2019, Colin Richard Jeffries-Smith was convicted of the manslaughter-killing of Lance Wayne Waite at the Greerton 2nd Hand & Pawn Warehouse, known as The Trap, in 2018.
Jeffries-Smith stood trial for murder in the Rotorua High Court in June 2019, but he was acquitted of the murder charge and instead convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to nine years in jail on that charge.
The charge relates to Jeffries-Smith, who was a street-level dealer in cannabis and methamphetamine, fatally shooting Waite after going to The Trap to retrieve his car.
Waite, a member of the Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob, had taken the car as a "tax" after a failed drug deal involving Jeffries-Smith and a woman connected to the gang.
Early on December 31, 2017, Jeffries-Smith tried to resolve the situation by paying money and handing over drugs to Waite.
However, Waite refused to give the car back. Jeffries-Smith then armed himself with a firearm and ammunition and went to The Trap to confront Waite on January 3, 2018.
The confrontation ended with Jeffries-Smith discharging the firearm twice, striking Waite in the back, as he was initially walking away, then running from the scene.
Jeffries-Smith appealed the length of his sentence to the Court of Appeal, and also sought extra credit for his willingness to plead guilty to manslaughter in 2018.
He and his lawyer Mark Edgar argued that he had fired in self-defence and also submitted that 10-years' prison starting point for the manslaughter was too high.
Jeffries-Smith told the police and the jury that Waite threatened to harm his family if he did not pay him more money and saw him reach for a sawn-off shotgun.
In her Court of Appeal judgment, Justice Patricia Courtney said although there was "evidence about Mr Waite's propensity for violence, no one heard him threaten Mr Jeffries-Smith on the morning of the shooting and no gun was found in Waite's car".
Justice Courtney said the issue of self-defence was clearly rejected by the jury and by the trial judge due to lack of evidence and Justice Mark Woolford was entitled to take that view.
In written sentencing notes, Justice Woolford said no one saw the deceased in possession of a sawn-off shotgun at The Trap, nor was a firearm found in Waite's car.
"My assessment is that Mr Jeffries-Smith lost his temper when the deceased mocked him and told him he would not use the gun," he said.
Justice Courtney said given the Crown case, a conviction for murder was quite possible and for manslaughter highly likely.
"It was incontrovertible that Mr Jeffries-Smith had shot Mr Waite."
Edgar also submitted Justice Woolford had erred in not giving his client the full 25 per cent discount.
The Crown argued there was a lack of formal communication in terms of Jeffries-Smith's intention to plead guilty to manslaughter earlier when he had every opportunity to do so.
Justice Courtney said it was a matter of principle that Jeffries-Smith who had raised the matter with former legal counsel was not disadvantaged.
"It is apparent from the facts outlined that he had made it clear in January 2018 that he was prepared to plead guilty to manslaughter," she said
"We consider that Mr Jeffries-Smith was entitled to a discount of 20 per cent rather than the 10 per cent he was given."
Jeffries-Smith's nine-years prison sentence for manslaughter was quashed and replaced with a sentence of eight years.