A grieving Northland family held back tears in court describing their frantic search for a loved one now knowing he had been shot dead and buried in a shallow grave.

Tribesman gang member Kimble Moore's whanau came in droves yesterday to the High Court in Whangārei where his killer, Rawden "Big Boy" Yates, was sentenced to life in jail with a minimum non parole of 15 years.

Moore, 48, a patched member of the Tribesmen gang from Waipapakauri in the Far North, in March 2016. Yates is also a Tribesman.

Moore was reported missing from Taipa by his partner and his body was found buried in a shallow grave six months later in the Fairburn area. He was shot twice in the back and once in the side.

Advertisement

His mother Erana, brother Joseph and sister Marama were among those who read out their victim impact statements in court at the start of court proceedings while Yates kept his head bowed throughout the sentencing.

Joseph Moore said not only did Yates take his brother's life, he was also responsible for the deteriorating health of his parents.

"Not only did you shoot my brother Kimble Moore in the back, you tried to insult the courts by pleading self-defence and kept his body from us for six months. We spent months looking for it in bushes, beaches and swamps.

"My only plea is that Rawden Yates, you are sentenced to a non-parole sentence that reflects the cowardly act of murder you inflicted on my brother," he said.

Only Jehovah's love and the hard work of police detectives and a few witnesses brought Moore's body home to his family, he said.

Kimble Moore's brother Joseph, left, sister Marama and mother Erana hold a picture of him outside court. Photo/Imran Ali
Kimble Moore's brother Joseph, left, sister Marama and mother Erana hold a picture of him outside court. Photo/Imran Ali

Outside court, he said no sentence would bring his brother back and although the court process was over, Kimble Moore's loss would forever he felt.

Marama Moore told the court her family searched in some of the most horrific places in the hope of finding her brother.

"You decided to kill and bury my brother hoping that you would get away with murder."

Her mother said she was not allowed to tell the court what should happen to Yates but wished the presiding judged locked him up and threw away the keys.

Crown prosecutor Richard Annandale said Yates actions were brutal, callous and amounted to an "execution-style murder" that warranted a minimum non-parole period of no less than 17 years in prison.

Defence lawyer Nick Leader said Yates admitted killing Moore and getting rid of evidence but maintained he was not involved in the disposal of his body.

Justice Mathew Downs said Yates actions in concealing and disposing of evidence and Moore's body were inconsistent with his claims of self-defence at trial.

The judge asked Moore's family for patience during sentencing, saying it was imperative the court process was conducted with dignity.