A 20-year-old man accused of murdering a young Auckland father has pleaded not guilty in a courtroom packed with upset family members and police officers.
The man, who continues to have interim name suppression, made his first High Court appearance today before Justice Simon Moore in Auckland.
He pleaded not guilty to murdering Arthur (Afa) Brown at this morning's hearing, which also saw a large police presence.
The 26-year-old was fatally shot outside a group of shops on Vine St in Māngere at about 12.45am on March 10.
As the accused left the dock members of Brown's family and friends, numbering in the dozens, launched a series of verbal barbs at the man's direction.
Justice Moore then told those in the public gallery: "I thank you for coming to court and the general courtesy that you have shown in the difficult circumstances."
The accused will next appear in June.
Police earlier said their inquiries found Brown was waiting for a friend to pick him up when three offenders approached him on foot.
"He has then been shot twice before the offenders cowardly ran from the scene," Detective Inspector Tofilau Faa Va'aelua has said.
"This is a senseless act of violence that has left a newborn baby to grow up without a father. Mr Brown was unarmed, out-numbered and defenceless."
Brown is survived by his wife Atiliai Brown, who recently gave birth, while the couple had only been married for less than two months.
Va'aelua said police executed several search warrants last month with the assistance of the Armed Offenders Squad, leading to the accused's arrest.
Several firearms were also recovered during the raids, Va'aelua said.
The funeral for Brown, who was also known as Afa, was held last month.