The fatal shooting of Lance Waite was not a whodunnit. There's no dispute Colin Jeffries-Smith pulled the trigger.

A key question for the jury to wrestle with is whether Jeffries-Smith, a street dealer of cannabis and methamphetamine in Tauranga, was justified in shooting Waite, a senior gang member who took his car.

The answer is no, Crown Solicitor Anna Pollett said in closing the prosecution case at the six-week trial in the High Court at Rotorua.

"You might think there is no more clear-cut case of murder than waiting behind a door, coming out armed with a .22 semiautomatic firearm, making your demands, then shooting someone twice in the back," said Pollett.


The victim, Lance Wayne Waite, was shot at a Gate Pa property in January last year and the 58-year-old later died of his wounds after being taken to Tauranga Hospital.

 Lance Waite, 58, was shot dead at Wilrose Place in Gate Pa on January 3 last year.
Lance Waite, 58, was shot dead at Wilrose Place in Gate Pa on January 3 last year.

Waite was a senior member of the Mongrel Mob who had taken, or "taxed", Jeffries-Smith's car following a drug deal gone wrong.

The 28-year-old Jeffries-Smith was charged with murder.

Nine months later, Casino Heta Williams — a member of the Black Power gang — was charged as an accessory to murder after the fact.

After Waite was shot, Williams is alleged to have given Jeffries-Smith a place to hide and new clothes, as well as a new SIM card for his phone, and coaching him on what to tell police.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.

The defence team for Jeffries-Smith, led by Auckland barrister Mark Edgar, say their client acted in self-defence.

That Jeffries-Smith shot Waite in a pre-emptive in fear of what the gang member would do.


In fear of Lance Waite getting his own firearm downstairs — which the Crown disputes — in fear of what Lance Waite might do to his family.

The problem with the self-defence argument, Pollett told the jury, was the complete absence of fear in the trial's evidence.

"The text messages show what was in his mind. No fears expressed for his mother, no fears expressed for his son, or himself," said Pollett.

"His only focus was getting his car back."

Colin Richard Jeffries-Smith (left) and Casino Heta Williams appear in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / File
Colin Richard Jeffries-Smith (left) and Casino Heta Williams appear in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / File

Lance Waite had taken Jeffries-Smith's car, as security of a $2000 drug debt.

While the Crown said Waite was an intimidating figure, this was irrelevant at the time Jeffries-Smith pulled the trigger.

"The Crown do not say Lance Waite was a perfect citizen. But he, like anyone else, good or bad, in our society cannot have their life taken by another citizen," said Pollett.

"That is not how a civilised society works. You cannot just take someone's life, even if they have wronged you."

Pollett said there was no evidence of Jeffries-Smith being fearful in the days, or moments, leading up to the shooting on January 3, 2018.

At one point, the day after the caer was taken, Colin Jeffries-Smith snatched the keys from the ignition.

"He knew the car had been taxed by a gang member. If he was fearful, why on earth would he risk that? He had a choice to walk away," said Pollett.

The following day, Pollett said the evidence showed, Casino Williams urged Jeffries-Smith to "take a stand and shoot the c***".

The Crown alleged Williams gave the younger man the Ruger .22 rifle used in the shooting.

On the morning of the shooting on 3 January 2018, Jeffries-Smith had a 6am meeting with Lance Waite at "The Trap" in Gate Pa.

 Police at the scene where Lance Waite was shot last year. Photo / File
Police at the scene where Lance Waite was shot last year. Photo / File

"The Trap" was a cluttered second-hand store, but also a drug-dealing premises.

Jeffries-Smith failed to persuade Lance Waite to return his car.

The Crown pointed out Jeffries-Smith was unarmed at this meeting, despite his claims of being afraid.

"If he had seen Lance Waite with a firearm — which the Crown rejects — but let's say Lance Waite did show him a firearm," said Pollett, "why on earth was Colin Jeffries-Smith so comfortable being unarmed in a last-ditch attempt to get his car back?"

Instead of walking away, Pollett said Jeffries-Smith took different options.

He chose to get the Ruger, get the ammunition, and return to "The Trap", said Pollett.
He chose to lay in wait for Lance Waite to exit the bedroom, said Pollett.

He chose to demand the return of his keys, said Pollett, then fire the Ruger, not once but twice.

"This is not a case where the law justifies the use of force to defend himself. He chose to be there," said Pollett. "Whatever happened in the lead-up, he chose to be there. Lance Waite did not confront him. Quite the opposite."

Pollett said there was no "justification" defence where the actions of Colin Jeffries-Smith were taken in self-defence, or to protect someone else, from an immediate threat.

Murder is when the accused intends to kill someone, said Pollett, or by intending to injure someone in a way likely to cause death.

"The Crown say this was an intentional killing," said Pollett, "but if you're not satisfied it is, if you shoot someone once, let alone twice, it's intended to cause bodily injury.

"Either way, it's murder."

Pollett is expected to finish closing the Crown case on Friday. Defence lawyers Mark Edgar and John Holmes, for Williams, will then make their closing remarks.

Justice Mark Woolford is expected to sum up the trial early next week before the jury retires to consider its verdict.