A man charged with murder had to be taken out of court and the gallery cleared as tensions exploded in the Whangārei High Court today.
Name suppression today lapsed for Lance Hall, who appeared in the High Court for the first time charged with the murder of Jason McNae outside a block of flats in Whangārei.
Appearing before Justice Timothy Brewer, Hall entered the court eyeballing a full gallery of McNae’s supporters and sat down giving the finger to the media.
The 50-year-old’s lawyer Doug Blaikie then entered a not-guilty plea as tensions began to rise inside the courtroom.
McNae’s supporters then started swearing at Hall, who in turn stood and answered back as expletives were yelled back and forth between the dock and the gallery.
Hall had to be taken out of the dock and members of the public removed from the public gallery by court security, resulting in further fiery outbursts.
After the gallery was cleared, Hall was brought back into the court for the remainder of the court session.
Tensions further erupted outside the courtroom on the concourse after the hearing between members of McNae’s family, with several people in tears.
Applications were made by the media to take photos of Hall, which Blaikie opposed due to the apparent tensions Hall is experiencing in prison from gang members.
Blaikie said his client was currently in a secure wing due to threats he was getting and printing his photo would cause serious risk to him.
Justice Brewer rejected Blaikie’s request and said safety issues for Hall were to be managed by the prison.
“I can’t add more to that prison authorities have seen fit to place him in special detention, publication of a photo would not make it more difficult for them to control that situation,” Justice Brewer directed.
Emergency services were called to the flats on Anzac Rd in Morningside at around 5.30pm on June 23, 2023, where Mcnae was found with a stab wound. Whānau announced later that evening that he had died.
A three-week trial was set scheduled for July 7, 2025, a date Justice Brewer was clearly not happy with.
“I am very unhappy with a trial date that is two years out.”
Shannon Pitman is a Whangārei based reporter for Open Justice covering courts in the Te Tai Tokerau region. She is of Ngāpuhi/Ngātiwai/Ngāti Pūkenga descent and has worked freelance in digital media for the past five years. She joined NZME in 2023.