A spur-of-the-moment decision to stop and confront gang members he felt were threatening his family has resulted in four years and four months in jail for manslaughter.

Nicky Brian Dodd was yesterday sentenced in the High Court at Whangārei after earlier being found guilty by a jury of the manslaughter of Tribesman member John ''John Boy" Harris on October 18, 2016.

Dodd was also sentenced to unlawful possession of ammunition and unlawful possession of a firearm for which he had earlier pleaded guilty.

Justice Ailsa Duffy gave a starting point for Dodd's sentence for all offences at six years and five months.

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She then took into account a range of factors, including mitigating circumstances, genuine remorse, his contacting Harris' whānau to apologise personally, including having a restorative justice meeting with them, and efforts Dodd was making to rid himself of his life of crime.

John Henry Harris, above, died after being shot by gang member Nicky Dodd.
John Henry Harris, above, died after being shot by gang member Nicky Dodd.

Justice Duffy said while Dodd's younger brothers, Adam and Kelly, were Tribesmen members, and the shooting had its genesis in tension between the Far North and Whangārei chapters in the gang, Nicky Dodd was not a gang member.

She said Dodd's offending was more about protecting his family, which he perceived was under threat form the Far North chapter, rather than a gang confrontation.

Justice Duffy said Dodd had an upbringing that was marked by domestic violence and beatings from his father and, as the eldest, he took it upon himself to protect his siblings.

She said she did not want to give Dodd a "crushing" sentence that would deter him from rehabilitation, which she said was a real possibility for him after a life of crime and violence.

Dodd had a lengthy criminality history, including two convictions for unlawfully possessing firearms and one for aggravated robbery.

Justice Duffy said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision by Dodd to stop on SH1 at the entrance to Mower Rd and fire at the group of people outside the house from about 100m away.

She said it was driven by Dodd's desire to protect his family rather than as a result of intra-gang activity.

John Henry Harris' death had its genesis in a perceived debt between rival Tribesmen and Black Power gangs and the subsequent theft of a red Holden Commodore.

The 37-year-old Tribesmen gang member, known as John Boy, was standing outside a house on Mower Rd, just north of Whangārei, just before 6am on October 18, 2016 when he was shot at by Dodd using a pump action shotgun from about 100m away.

Harris dropped to the ground, was loaded in a vehicle and driven to the St John Ambulance station in Whangārei where he died from a single gunshot wound to his chest.

Dodd was charged with murder, but found guilty of manslaughter by a jury in the High Court at Whangārei in October.

He initially also faced charges of perverting the course of justice and two of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, but those charges were dropped.

Two more senior gang members were charged with murder over Harris' death, but later had other charges laid.

Walter Reid Ngaau, 55, and Adam Owen Dodd, 40, were initially charged with murder but both pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful assembly in relation to the death.

In 2015, a Tribesman member transferred from the Whangārei chapter to the Far North chapter where he later became president.

Following his transfer, Adam Dodd ordered that the man should give up his Harley-Davidson V-Rod as payment for the transfer. This form of debt collection among gangs is known as "taxing" and frequently involves illegal activity and is often accompanied by, or followed by, violence.

Conflict arose because the Whangārei Chapter perceived that the former member owed a further debt when he continued to reside in Whangārei.

On October 15, 2016, Adam Dodd went to Mower Rd where the former member was living to take a red Holden Commodore that belonged to the latter's partner. Dodd spoke to the man for about 20 minutes and told him he was going to take the car and he did.

The man then contacted the Far North Tribesmen to assist in getting the vehicle back, but negotiations failed to resolve the issue.

About 3.30 am on October 18, 2016, several members of the Far North Tribesmen travelled to Adam Dodd's home in Kensington and retrieved the Commodore. Shots were also heard while the gang members were at Adam Dodd's house. The vehicle was then taken back to Mower Rd.

Adam Dodd called Nicky Dodd who went to Kensington before the brothers travelled to Whakapara to check on their other brother, Kelly Dodd. It was on the way back from there that he made the fateful decision to stop at Mower Rd.

Forensics officers at the ambulance station where Harris died. Photo / File
Forensics officers at the ambulance station where Harris died. Photo / File

In a police interview, Nicky Dodd said he thought the gang members were at his brother's house when he called him. He drove to Kensington but what Adam failed to say was that incident had happened earlier that morning.

Nicky Dodd admitted to police he fired a shot towards a group of gang members because they had terrorised his brother's family. However, he said the shot was a scare tactic rather than aiming at anyone specifically at the house on Mower Rd.

"I wasn't aiming at anybody. There were too many of them. It [the shot] wasn't meant to go that far. I was half asleep at the time," he told Detective Josh Lautogo in a DVD interview played to the jury at his trial.