A father and son are accused of lying to police to protect a gang member from being investigated in connection with the homicide of a Kaitaia man.

The trial of Gregory Mark Comer, 58, and his son Gregory Matthew Comer, 18, in the High Court at Whangarei got under way yesterday and is expected to last the week.

Gregory Mark Comer is facing charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and being an accessory to murder and his son is charged with being an accessory to murder.

The charges arose after the death of Lee Rata who was fatally wounded by a group of people, including members of the Mongrel Mob, after an argument on Bonnets Rd in Kaitaia on New Year's Eve, 2015.


Mongrel Mob gang member Christopher Manuel was married earlier in the day and has admitted chasing, beating and killing Mr Rata.

In his opening address to a jury of six women and six men, Crown solicitor Mike Smith said Gregory Mark Comer told police a person investigators wanted to speak to had left Kaitaia with him before Rata was attacked. That turned out to be a lie, he said.

Manuel's wedding attire consisted of a red Mongrel Mob vest over a T-shirt, a pair of red shorts and a black bum bag. He also wore a Nazi-style helmet. It's believed the helmet was used to bash Rata.

Smith said the Comers interfered with a major police investigation as both arranged for the removal of the helmet from a house and other items of interest to detectives.

Police obtained orders from the High Court, Smith told the jury, to listen to phone
conversations between the father and son.

In one of the phone conversations, he said Gregory Matthew Comer was heard telling his father: "It's sorted, I've melted it down, stay off the phone" or words to that effect.

Smith said although they did not speak in coded terms, their language was guarded as they were well aware of the police investigation.

Earlier, Justice Paul Davison told the jury to reach their verdicts solely on evidence before the court and not to discuss the case with anyone who was not on the jury.


Manuel, 36, and Lester Pairama, 17, last week pleaded guilty to a downgraded charge of manslaughter and another of aggravated robbery.

Juanita Rafael Wilcox, 26, and Joseph Martin, 41, admitted to one charge of being an accessory after the fact to murder.

Manuel and Martin also pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.