A Ngaruawahia man found dumped in water off the McLaren Falls bridge had been cut off by family and friends after spiralling deep into the world of illicit drugs.

At the time Mitchell Paterson was killed he was living a transient lifestyle, the High Court at Hamilton heard during the opening day of the trial in relation to his death.

Paterson was found bound, wrapped in tarpaulin at the bottom of a body of a water under the bridge at Kaimai Ranges during the early hours of July 13 last year.

Chloe Nardiah Leigh Kerridge, Leon Colin Wilson, 49, and Christopher Ramia Smith, 34, each deny charges of kidnapping and conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

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Wilson and Smith also deny an additional charge of manslaughter.

The court today heard the details of Paterson's killing, which the crown alleged were sparked by rumours circulating that the victim had been "dissing" Waikato Nomad's president, Wilson.

Crown prosecutor Jacinda Foster told the jury how it led to him ordering Nomad's prospect Simon Peter Walker, his former partner Chloe Kerridge, and her friend Dylan Ken Brian Boyle to go and find him late on Saturday July 11.

Walker eventually managed to track Paterson down to an apartment on Mill Lane, Hamilton, with help from a friend of Kerridge's.

However, Paterson was unaware it was Walker who was after him, and he was instead lured out of the house under the pretence of a drug deal.

Once talking to Walker in the back of Boyle's Subaru, a car containing Wilson, Smith and Wickens pulled up alongside. Wilson then ordered Boyle to drive it back to his Pohutukawa Drive home as Walker dragged Paterson into the car.

Mitchell Paterson was clearly shocked to see a Waikato gang leader pull up alongside him during a fake drug deal just prior to his death, a witness has testified. Photo / File
Mitchell Paterson was clearly shocked to see a Waikato gang leader pull up alongside him during a fake drug deal just prior to his death, a witness has testified. Photo / File

A struggle ensued, as Walker restrained him in a headlock, resulting in Paterson kicking out the rear window. Both vehicles pulled over and Smith got into the back of the car with Paterson and Walker.

Arriving back at Wilson's home, Paterson was dragged into the garage where they would shortly after discover he is dead.

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The crown allege Wilson then ordered Paterson's body be wrapped and put into his Nissan Terrano; with the vehicle being set on fire.

Walker and Kyra Betteridge, who also lived at Wilson's house, and Wickens were tasked with the disposal job.

After picking up containers of petrol and diesel they then continued to drive around for about 20 hours before coming up with a different plan to throw Paterson off the bridge. Wickens left the group as he disagreed with the new plan.

The pair picked up Green who helped Walker throw Paterson's body off the bridge.

Paterson's father, Craig, gave evidence. He told the court how his son had gone from being a generous man who would "give the shirt off his back" to anyone, to one who began stealing from the family home after spiralling into the world of illicit drugs about two years before his death.

Christopher Ramia Smith, 34, in the High Court at Hamilton where he is fighting charges including manslaughter in relation to Mitchell Paterson's death. Photo / Belinda Feek
Christopher Ramia Smith, 34, in the High Court at Hamilton where he is fighting charges including manslaughter in relation to Mitchell Paterson's death. Photo / Belinda Feek

"It got to the stage where we told him he wasn't welcome home anymore."

The court heard how Paterson was living a transient lifestyle at the time of his death and was actively dealing drugs, including cannabis and methamphetamine.

The man who helped set up the fateful "drug deal" also gave evidence how shocked he was at receiving a message from Paterson after organising the deal, believed to have been angered that it was Walker who wanted the $250 worth of drugs.

The man told the court how he received a message from him saying "I want to punch your head".

He then messaged Walker asking what happened, who replied saying Paterson never came out of the house.

A woman living at the Mill Lane apartment also gave evidence how she spoke to Paterson as he stood on the road by the group's car, just minutes before he disappeared.

She said he asked her if she was alright, then she asked him if he was going out and he said no.

She told him that she was going to the nearby BP service station and asked him if he wanted anything. He asked for a bottle of Coke.

The trial is set down for two weeks.