One brother is dead and the other is on trial for his murder.
The "tragedy" of the death of Leonard Anthony Tawa is unfolding in the High Court at Rotorua as his younger brother, Hira Moanaroa Tawa, is defending a charge of murdering him by using a car to run over his head.
Hira Moanaroa Tawa, now aged 22, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 32-year-old brother following a fight that ended with Leonard Tawa being run over on November 12, 2018, in Tāneatua in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
A jury of three men and nine women heard an opening address from Crown lawyer Richard Jenson this morning.
Jenson said the brothers had been drinking during the day with friends on Hughes Pl in Tāneatua. At some point Leonard "caused trouble" and Hira wanted to go home.
Leonard tried to stop his brother leaving and the two got into a fight on the road outside. Hira kicked and hit Leonard including on his face, causing him to bleed.
Hira got into their sister's blue Nissan Primara and attempted to drive off but Leonard held on to the open driver's side door by the door handle.
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Hira reversed the car and began driving down Hughes Pl with Leonard being dragged along, clinging to the door handle.
Leonard eventually fell in the gutter at the intersection of Hughes Pl and Howell Rd and lay motionless.
It is the Crown's case that Hira then did a u-turn and purposely drove back towards Leonard and ran over his head.
"He drove over his brother's head striking him with the driver's side wheel," Jenson said.
Hira then drove off on Howell Rd and on to State Highway 2 towards Ruatoki to a farm where he had previously worked.
He failed to take a bend into the driveway of the farm and crashed into a ditch.
Hira then told a colleague he thought he had killed his brother.
Leonard was taken to Whakatāne Hospital in a critical condition. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and died three days later on November 15.
"It is a tragedy … One brother is dead, the other now on trial for murder."
Jenson said Hira told police he regretted what happened.
"He was no doubt telling the truth. However, he also said he did not see his brother and didn't intend to run him over. The Crown case is that he was not telling the truth about that."
Jenson said the Crown will call 17 witnesses, including three who directly saw what happened when Hira ran over his brother.
Hira's lawyer, Gene Tomlinson, gave a brief opening address to the jury, letting them know Hira and Leonard Tawa's parents were sitting in the public gallery.
Tomlinson said it was up to the jury to decide whether Hira intended to kill his brother. He said the jury was also to decide whether Leonard was run over when he fell from holding the door and whether it was those injuries that caused his death.
"Did he deliberately try to run over his brother and did he intend to kill him? … If you are not sure, your verdicts will be not guilty," Tomlinson said.
The Crown's first witness, Kelly Tawa, gave evidence saying her brother Leonard was a P addict and he often "lashed" out when he didn't get his way.
Through tears, she said they were a family of eight children and Leonard would often pick on Hira.
"He will pick on my brother and my brother will ring me to come and get him."
She said it was often Hira's natural response to try and run away from Leonard to avoid "hidings".
She said Leonard's behaviour had got worse during the past three years because of his P use.
"If he couldn't get money off us he lashes out ... I think it's when he is coming down and needs some more P."
She said Leonard used to have good jobs but then he started losing them when "he ended up on that stuff".
She described Leonard as a good protector of his family but the only one allowed to hit his family was him.
At times during Kelly Tawa's evidence, Hira cried in the dock.
She said on the day of the incident, Hira went to his parents' house, was holding his 7-month-old baby while rocking back and forward and was crying a lot.
"He was trying to get away from Len hitting him. He said 'it was an accident sis'."
Justice Graham Lang is presiding over the trial which is expected to take at least a week.