A jury trial has begun for two men accused of being involved in a "terrifying" home invasion the Crown says was a case of mistaken identity.
Crown prosecutor Ella Collis yesterday told a jury in the Tauranga District Court that on July 21, 2018, a Mount Maunganui couple were woken by armed and masked intruders who held them at gunpoint after smashing through their front door with a sledgehammer.
The intruders demanded drugs and money before fleeing on foot and a getaway vehicle, leading police on a pursuit through sports grounds and along railway tracks, she said.
The two men on trial, Chaliedene Taueki and Maninoa Vincent Felise, each pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery and a charge of aggravated burglary when they appeared in Tauranga District Court.
In her opening statement, Collis said there was evidence linking both defendants to the home invasion, including DNA, a taser barb and a disposable glove.
She told the court that at 4.15am, several masked and armed intruders broke into the Valley Rd home, waking the couple who tried to escape through their garage but were "detained at gunpoint".
She said the intruders had a shotgun, baton, knife and used a sledgehammer to smash through the couple's front door. The couple were assaulted and drugs and money demanded, which led the couple to believe the intruders had the wrong people. the court was told.
Collis said the house the intruders were meant to target was located nearby.
Neighbours woke to the sounds of banging and screaming coming from the property. An off-duty police officer and his wife called 111 and went to investigate.
When police arrived, they found the group of intruders still masked and dressed in black. Officers used pepper spray and a taser in the confrontation, but the intruders fled. The sledgehammer and knife were left at the house. The extendable baton and shotgun were later found nearby, Collis said.
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The court heard some of the intruders ran to a getaway vehicle waiting in Oceanview Rd. The silver Toyota fled, travelling through the Blake Park and Bay Oval sports grounds before being cornered by police in Hinau St. The occupants then got into a maroon Honda and drove through the sports grounds again before travelling at high speed down Maunganui Rd and on to railway tracks before dumping the car at the Omanu Golf Course, where the occupants then fled on foot.
Collis said clothing and other items left inside the cars were tested for DNA, and matched the DNA of each defendant. This included a jacket with a taser barb still attached and a disposable glove inside. The defendants' fingerprints were also found. This was evidence of Taueki's and Felise's involvement in the home invasion, Collis said.
CCTV footage showed Felise, with others, dressed in a fluorescent green jacket in the Toyota at a Z fuel station in Auckland, hours before the home invasion. Police later found the jacket in one of the cars, she said.
Defence counsel Rob Mansfield, representing Felise, told the jury the home invasion would have been a "terrifying incident" for the couple.
However, the Crown's case was "fundamentally weak" and "falls well short" of proving his client was involved. While there was no dispute Felise knew others involved in the attack and was captured on camera with them earlier, there was no evidence to prove he was in Tauranga let alone involved in the attack when it happened, Mansfield said.
Taueki counsel Steven Lack told jurors while his client's DNA was found on clothing and items, so was the DNA of at least two other people. It did not necessarily prove Taueki was involved, he said.
"Mr Taueki never travelled in one of the vehicles from Auckland, where he lives, to Mount Maunganui. He never went into that home."
The trial continues.