The trial of two people who allegedly imported a large quantity of methamphetamine on Ninety Mile Beach will begin in the High Court at Whangārei today. Salaima Fakaosilea and Stevie Norua Cullen are each facing two charges of importing meth and another two of participating in an organised criminal group. Justice Christine Gordon excused the jury of six women and six men after they were empanelled on Monday until this morning so that legal arguments could be sorted before the trial began. More than half a tonne of meth with an estimated street value of up to $448 million was discovered after being landed on Ninety Mile Beach in 2016.
House fire began in kitchen
A blaze that destroyed a family's home on Ripi St in Kaikohe on Anzac Day started in the kitchen, an investigator has found. However, fire safety officer Roy Brickell said the extent of damage to the house, and the lack of witnesses so far, meant he could not yet determine how the fire started. Investigations by police and Fire and Emergency NZ were continuing. Another fire, which razed a house in Ahipara in April 22, started in the meter box, he said.
Pipeline leak repaired
Water restrictions are still in force in Opononi after a leak in the pipeline connecting the water supply and the treatment plant. Evidence of a leak was detected just before Easter but the Far North District Council's alliance partner Far North Waters struggled to find it due to the terrain and poor weather which made it difficult to locate damp areas. Eventually Far North Waters called in a specialist leak detection crew who found a break about the size of a deck of cards in the pipeline. The leak was repaired quickly with no further complications. Water restrictions were still in force in Opononi while supply reservoirs filled up and returned to normal levels.
Careless driving acquittal
A 31-year-old Awanui man has been acquitted on charges of aggravated careless driving causing death and injury. Tae Murray's trial, before Judge Ajit Singh, began in the Kaitaia District Court and was completed in Kaikohe. Judge Singh dismissed the charges in Kaikohe on Wednesday, after hearing submissions from the prosecution and defence. The charges related to the death of a 44-year-old man and the injuring of another, who was flown by rescue helicopter to Whangarei Hospital in a critical condition, after they were struck by a vehicle driven by Murray on the Awanui Straight in the early hours of November 24, 2017. A 40-year-old woman was taken to Kaitaia Hospital by ambulance with moderate injuries. All three had been walking north, the same direction in which Murray was driving.