Patched gang members shouted and gestured in the streets outside a courthouse as a Mongrel Mob president was driven away to begin a jail sentence of at least ten-and-a-half years for the murder of a rival gang prospect.
Head of the West Coast chapter, Turanganui John Ormsby-Turner, killed Rei Joseph Tumatauinga Maihi Marshall, a prospect for the Uru Taha gang, in an unexpected and brutal slaying last August.
Marshall, a 23-year-old Taranaki father-of-two, died after he was attacked with a claw hammer and stabbed with a large hunting knife.
Ormsby-Turner, 26, earlier admitted the murder and today was sentenced by Justice Peter Churchman in the High Court at New Plymouth.
There was a heavy police presence inside the courtroom and outside the building. More than a dozen Mongrel Mob members, some from out of town, turned up to show their support for the gang boss.
Following the hearing, the patched gangsters shouted the Nazi cry Sieg Heil as Ormsby-Turner was driven away from court to begin his life sentence.
Tensions boiled over between the gang and supporters of the victim before police moved in to keep it under control.
The heightened security followed previous hearings for the case where the public gallery exploded into emotional scenes of chaos and shouting between Marshall’s whānau and gang associates.
At Ormsby-Turner’s sentencing, Marshall’s mother Julie Marshall said shortly before her son was killed he texted her to say he would visit within the hour.
But instead, she received a call saying he was at the hospital and had been badly beaten.
“I started to scream hysterically,” she said in her victim impact statement to the court.
When she got to hospital she was met with “a line” of police and was told “Rei had gone”.
In the aftermath of her son’s death, she and Marshall’s father slept in a car outside the funeral home where their son’s body lay. They were not permitted to see him.
“Time was so slow waiting to touch him.”
When they finally did he was “cold and lifeless”, had a chunk missing from his forehead, and “every piece of him was bruised”.
She had not seen any remorse from the three charged in relation to Marshall’s death.
They were “cold-hearted murderers,” she said.
Marshall rang his mother daily. But the phone had now stopped ringing and the reality of the loss to their whānau was now setting in.
“Every day I live the nightmare of them taking my baby’s life.”
Crown prosecutor Cherie Clarke said the primary aggravating factor in the case was the connection between Ormsby-Turner as president of a Mongrel Mob chapter and his determining to kill a prospect of an opposing gang.
She submitted Ormsby-Turner should receive a minimum term of imprisonment (MPI) of 12 years.
Defence lawyer Paul Keegan accepted his client faced life in jail but said the murder was committed without any significant premeditation.
It was a spontaneous reaction occurring as a conflict unfolded between Marshall and co-offender Hamiora Laupama, Keegan submitted.
“It is also, tragically, borne out of longstanding animosity of two rival gangs.”
Keegan said mitigating factors included Ormsby-Turner’s early guilty plea, relative youth, and his limited history before the court.
He said a pre-sentence report noted Ormsby-Turner showed remorse and had hoped the sentence he received would bring some peace to Marshall’s whānau.
Keegan argued for an MPI of between 10 and 11 years.
Referencing reports provided to the court, Justice Churchman said Ormsby-Turner was exposed to alcohol and violence at a young age, as well as other traumas.
He had tried to stay away from gangs but they had “sucked him back in”.
Ormsby-Turner told the report writers he knew his actions were wrong and that he never intended to kill Marshall.
He was “100 per cent sorry” and hoped to one day participate in the restorative justice process with Marshall’s whānau.
Justice Churchman accepted the defence’s submission that the killing had a spontaneous component to it.
“You were not actively seeking out the victim for a confrontation.”
Ormsby-Turner stabbed Marshall only once and then assisted in getting him into the vehicle so he could be taken to hospital, the judge said.
However, he said aggravating features included the use of a weapon, the loss of life and the extent of Marshall’s injuries, the pain caused to the victim’s whānau, the gang element, and that there were multiple offenders.
Justice Churchman took a starting point of a minimum of 13 years, making deductions for Ormsby-Turner’s guilty plea, personal circumstances, and rehabilitation prospects. This resulted in an end sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum period of ten-and-a-half years.
Ormsby-Turner turned and waved to his whānau as he was led out of the court to begin his sentence.
On the evening of August 3, Ormsby-Turner, along with Laupama, 25, and a 16-year-old, arrived at a South Rd address in New Plymouth.
They were there to pick up another Mob member - Marshall’s brother.
Ormsby-Turner, Laupama, the teen and Marshall’s brother had plans to go and “tax” someone who owed a debt.
But when the brother arrived at the address as planned, he had Marshall with him.
Despite his sibling’s Mob patch, Marshall was connected to rival gang Uru Taha. Marshall had been around the Mongrel Mob before without any trouble and it was believed this encounter would be no different.
But because of wider issues between the opposing gangs Ormsby-Turner and the teen became agitated when they saw him.
Shortly after, Laupama and Marshall crossed paths while inside the South Rd property.
They had a heated exchange and Marshall threw a punch at Laupama but missed.
The situation soon escalated as Ormsby-Turner came up behind Marshall and stabbed him in the torso with a hunting knife. The teen stepped in and began to rain blows on Marshall with a claw hammer.
Marshall’s brother intervened, bringing the attack to an end by picking up his sibling and carrying him to the car.
They were then driven to Taranaki Base Hospital by a woman but Marshall was pronounced dead shortly after they arrived.
What followed was an attempt by Laupama and the teen to cover up the murder at the instruction of their boss, Ormsby-Turner.
Laupama and the teen moved their car from the scene and dumped several items, including the knife, at East End Reserve in New Plymouth.
They got rid of the clothes they were wearing at the time of the murder by burning the items in the backyard of an associate.
On August 8, police executed a search of Ormsby-Turner’s house and the three were arrested. Officers later located items of interest at the reserve and the associate’s address.
Laupama and the teenage boy, both members of the Mongrel Mob at the time of Marshall’s death, were also charged with his murder.
However, those charges were later withdrawn and the two then admitted to being an accessory after the fact.
The teen, who has interim name suppression, also pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in relation to the death.
While his case is still moving through the court, Laupama was sentenced to five months of home detention in December.