A young father shot dead on an Auckland street knew his killer, who today pleaded guilty to murder in a courtroom packed with grieving family members.

Semi Pilitati, 21, appeared in the High Court at Auckland this morning before Justice Simon Moore.

He promptly pleaded guilty to murdering Arthur (Afa) Brown.

The 26-year-old was fatally shot outside a group of shops on Vine St in Māngere about 12.45am on March 10.


Court documents released to the Herald now show Brown and Pilitati were known to each other through mutual associates, while the killing appears to have been sparked by gang fears.

CCTV footage from the night of the shooting reveals Brown was walking towards Pilitati's home on Vine St, where Pilitati was drinking with his family and friends at the time.

After his arrest, Pilitati told police he first saw Brown outside his garage dressed in red and had a gut feeling something was going to happen - so he grabbed his loaded shotgun.

He claimed he heard Brown on the phone saying, "they are drinking in the garage" and believed Brown was planning with the "Red Army".

Pilitati, his brother and a friend then left their home and walked towards a nearby bakery to confront Brown.

His brother and friend were armed with a machete and axe.

At the bakery the group and Brown converged before Pilitati quickly fired two rounds at close range.

Counties Manukau Police investigating the death of Arthur Brown. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Counties Manukau Police investigating the death of Arthur Brown. Photo / Jason Oxenham

A post mortem examination found one bullet struck Brown's left collar bone, fatally damaging his carotid artery and jugular vein.


A witness saw Brown, who died at the scene, fall to the ground after the first shot.

When interviewed by police, Pilitati said he shot Brown in the back first before unloading another round when he turned around.

CCTV footage shows Pilitati, his brother and friend running back to their home just seven seconds after arriving at the bakery. They then fled to another house in a white Toyota van, court documents read.

Pilitati gave the murder weapon to another friend, who took it to a property in Otara where it was cleaned and stored. But police later raided the property and found the shotgun - which had rounds matching those fired on the night Brown died and his blood on the gun.

Pilitati, whose name suppression also lapsed today, told police he shot Brown to protect himself and his family but didn't intend to kill him.

He had changed his plea from an earlier not guilty stance and was due to go to trial in May next year.

At earlier hearings as Pilitati left the dock, members of Brown's family and friends would launch a series of verbal barbs his way.

Today, however, they sat silently and watched as Pilitati accepted his guilt.

"I just wish to acknowledge the public gallery and record the court's gratitude for the attitude with which the public gallery has brought to this matter," Justice Moore told them today.

Pilitati will be sentenced in December.

Arthur Brown married his wife Atiliai shortly before his death. Photo / Supplied
Arthur Brown married his wife Atiliai shortly before his death. Photo / Supplied

Police earlier said their inquiries found Brown was waiting for a friend to pick him up when three offenders approached him on foot.

"He has then been shot twice before the offenders cowardly ran from the scene," Detective Inspector Tofilau Faa Va'aelua has said.

"This is a senseless act of violence that has left a newborn baby to grow up without a father. Mr Brown was unarmed, out-numbered and defenceless."

Brown was survived by his wife Atiliai Brown, who gave birth earlier this year, while the couple had only been married for less than two months when he was killed.

The funeral for Brown, who was also known as Afa, was held in March.