Defence counsel have made their closing presentations in the murder trial of two men accused of brutally killing Raymond and James Fleet at Mamaku on August 7 last year.
They are Mikaere James Hura, 21, and Zen Pulemoana, 27 who are jointly charged with Martin Hone who's already pleaded guilty. A fourth man, Richard Te Kani, has admitted manslaughter charges relating to them.
Arguing on behalf of Hura, Harry Edward said when he'd been ordered to get rid of methamphetamine manufacturing equipment he was following orders, knowing if he didn't he would be punished.
The verdicts on two charges he faced relating to this were absolutely not guilty, Edward submitted.
A third charge was dismissed by Justice Sally Fitzgerald at the end of the Crown case.
Turning to the murder counts, he referred to a police interview in which he reminded jurors Hura had told a detective all hell had broken loose when Raymond Fleet was attacked out of the blue in a vehicle he saw shaking and swaying.
"We say the defendant had no prior knowledge that his was going to happen," Edward insisted.
He accepted there was no question Raymond Fleet had been run over but it was by Hone not Hura as the witness Nathan Gray claimed.
He urged the jury to be careful with Gray's evidence given he said Hura told him he'd run over Raymond Fleet. He pointed out Grey had close links with the Mangu Kaha gang and his claim was made to police six months after the double murders.
"We say he has lied to try and make it difficult for Mr Hura," Edward contended.
He reminded the jury Hura had refused Hone's demand that he whacked James Fleet with a shovel, despite the more senior gang member insisting it was a prospect's job. "He said `no no no'. . .he didn't attack him."
He described Hura as a big tough man who, after the deaths, only wanted to be held by his partner because he was scared.
"He had seen two men killed, this was way out of his league, he was traumatised, frightened of the repercussions not just against him but his partner and his family."
Edward was adamant the Crown had failed to prove the murder charges beyond reasonable doubt and the only possible verdicts for Hura on these were not guilty.
Meanwhile Pulemoana's lawyer, Max Simpkins, said it would be impossible to convict him of murdering either Fleet because his only involvement had been sitting in a motor vehicle frozen to the seat while they were subjected to frenzied attacks.
He said it wasn't disputed that as well as being attacked by a shovel, Raymond Fleet had been run over either by Hone or Hura but very definitely not by Pulemoana.
Simpkins described the case as uncomplicated, simple. "If you are merely present at a scene you are not guilty of murder," he argued.
He said a great deal had been discussed in the community about the victims' deaths. "You may think there's been a certain amount of hysteria surrounding these two killings, much has been reported and said, including gossip and speculation about how these men lost their lives, but what I ask you to do is put sympathy and hysteria aside, this case is all about the evidence," Simpkins said.
He queried what reason Pulemoana had to be involved in the deaths. He hadn't taken part in the methamphetamine cook that had preceded them and hadn't been charged in relation to it. Nor had he stood to lose anything when it was alleged part of the product produced had gone missing.
"He had no motive, no motive at all, any motive belongs to the killers of Raymond and James Fleet," Simpkins insisted.
He reminded jurors the trial judge had warned them several times that anything Hura said about Pulemoana in a police DVD interview could not be held against his client.
"There is no evidence at all that he actually physically assaulted anyone, none."
Simpkins was scathing about the Crown asking the jury panel of 11 to draw the inference that Pulemoana was part of James Fleet's beating in the vehicle both were in, warning them it would be very dangerous to do so.
Stressing Pulemoana had no knowledge of murderous intent he invited not guilty verdicts on both counts.
Justice Fitzgerald will sum up tomorrow morning before the jury begins its deliberations.