An appeal by Black Power members to have convictions stemming from a Rotorua gang shooting overturned by the Court of Appeal has failed.

The trial, of eight people including the three who were convicted and appealed, involved attempts to bribe and intimidate jurors.

Jury intimidation was one of the grounds listed for the appeal, which was decided by Justice Raynor Asher, Justice Patricia Courtney and Justice Simon Moore.

George Robert Jolley, Robert Dashwood and Cramer Tana McMeeking, members of the Mangu Kaha chapter of Black Power, were all convicted of participating in an organised criminal group late last year.


Jolley was also convicted of attempted murder and being unlawfully in an enclosed building, Dashwood was convicted of discharging a firearm with reckless disregard for the safety of others, and McMeeking of intentional damage and possession of an offensive weapon.

Jolley was sentenced to 11 years' jail on the attempted murder charge, Dashwood five years and McMeeking three years seven months on the criminal group charges. All were given shorter sentences on other convictions to be served concurrently.

The judgment listed seven grounds for appeal, one of which was attempted intimidation of the jury.

Jury members were followed to their cars one day during the second week of the trial and people in the public gallery made "threatening gestures" over two nights.

"One person made a gesture imitating a gun and another tapped his wrist as if tapping a watch," the judgment said.

The trial took place at the Rotorua High Court in November and December 2017. Photo / File
The trial took place at the Rotorua High Court in November and December 2017. Photo / File

After the incidents, Justice Sarah Katz put in place security arrangements for alternative transport for jurors and directed the jury about prejudice that could arise from the incidents.

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"I want to emphasise to you that you should not hold what occurred against these eight defendants in any way.

"The defence lawyers have each discussed the matter with their clients and assure me their clients had absolutely no knowledge of the relevant incidents and certainly did not encourage or instigate them in any way.

"I accept these assurances 100 per cent. They are consistent with my own experience of the defendants' behaviour throughout this trial. As you have seen yourself, their behaviour in this courtroom has been exemplary."

Several of the defendants, however, later swore at the jury when the verdicts were announced.

Jolley's lawyer Sam Wimsett argued in the appeal that, taken with other irregularities in the trial, the fairness of the trial was in doubt.

Not mentioned in the appeal was a $5000 bribe offered to one of the jurors to acquit one of the defendants, or bring about a hung jury. The juror reported the approach and was excused from jury duty.

Daralee Veatupu, the former girlfriend of Christopher Jolley, who was also on trial over the incident, pleaded guilty to attempting to influence by threats of bribes or other corrupt means a member of a jury.

She was sentenced to nine months' home detention over the incident where she went to a juror's home and offered her $5000 to ensure Jolley was home for Christmas.

Defence counsel also argued in the appeal the jury vetting process in Rotorua was unfair.

The process, set out in the judgment, was that jury lists were passed from the Crown solicitor to police, who would not know which trial the list is for.

The police then checked the names on the list against the National Intelligence Application (NIA) and cross out names with "active alerts" for gang membership, drug use or unlawful firearm posession.

Then anyone on the list with an extensive criminal history was crossed out. If the person had just one or two minor or historical convictions, the officer would put an asterisk or mark beside the name.

Details on why each name was crossed out was not given to the Crown.

"The marked-up list is not initially disclosed to the defence, though it is available in court on the morning of the trial for defence counsel to view on request," the judgment said.

"This practice has previously been the subject of judicial criticism."

Lawyers for Dashwood and McMeeking were unaware of the vetting practice in Rotorua, according to the judgment, so didn't ask to view it.

Justices Asher, Courtney and Moore acknowledged a problem with the vetting process - that the Crown did not know why the names were struck out, so could not inform the defence.

This, the judges said, "creates the perception of unfairness", and there was a need for guidelines on jury vetting.

The grounds for appeal failed, however, because "there is no basis on which to find that there was specific prejudice that could have led to unfairness in this trial.

"No information is available to suggest that any juror or jurors were, by reason of previous non-disqualifying convictions, pre-disposed against any of the appellants."

Cramer McMeeking, right, being sentenced for other offending in the photograph referred to in the judgment. Photo / File
Cramer McMeeking, right, being sentenced for other offending in the photograph referred to in the judgment. Photo / File

McMeeking also appealed on the grounds of negative pre-trial publicity as "three weeks before the trial, the Rotorua Daily Times [sic] published an article about alleged offending involving gang members, unrelated to the offending that was the subject of the trial. The article was accompanied by a large coloured photograph of Mr McMeeking and two others in the dock being sentenced for the other offending."

The judges ruled that the judge gave sufficient directions to the jury about publicity and "we are not satisfied that the report created a real risk of unfairness to Mr McMeeking".

Other grounds of appeal were that witness protection was disclosed to the jury, that hearsay evidence was presented, and that the verdicts were unreasonable and inconsistent, and the cumulative effect of these complaints.

"We have concluded that, although there were some irregularities in this trial, they did not, in themselves, lead to a miscarriage of justice in the sense of creating a real risk that the outcome of the trial was affected," the judges said.

"We are satisfied that, even viewed cumulatively, the areas that have been the subject of complaint, some with justification, did not result in an unfair trial and did not result in a miscarriage of justice."

The incident that led to the charges happened on December 11, 2015, after a woman whose father was believed to be connected to the Mongrel Mob moved into a house in Turner Drive, Western Heights, which Mangu Kaha believed to be their territory.

The woman was moving out with the help of her father and his associates when two vehicles carrying Mangu Kaha members arrived, along with others on foot.

Many of the group carried weapons, including George Jolley, who had a shotgun. Shots were fired, a car was damaged and one man was seriously injured in the confrontation.