A man accused of murdering a Tauranga gang member felt like a "sitting duck" and pulled the trigger because he feared for his and his family's lives, his lawyer says.
There is no dispute Colin Jeffries-Smith, 28, pulled the trigger of the .22 Ruger rifle twice and caused the death of 58-year-old Lance Wayne Waite on January 3, 2018.
Waite, a senior Mongrel Mob member, had taken or "taxed" Jeffries-Smith's car as security for a drug deal gone wrong and died of his wounds at Tauranga Hospital the same day.
The key question for the Rotorua High Court jury is whether Jeffries-Smith, a street dealer of cannabis and methamphetamine, was justified in shooting Waite and his actions were in defence of himself and his family, as he claims.
Waite was shot at a Gate Pa property known as The Trap, a cluttered second-hand store
- and drug-dealing premises.
Casino Heta Williams, a Black Power gang member, is also on trial defending charges of being an accessory after the fact to the alleged murder and possession of the firearm.
After Waite was shot, Williams allegedly gave Jeffries-Smith a place to hide, new clothes, a new SIM card for his phone and coached him on what to tell the police.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to those charges.
During his closing address on Friday Jeffries-Smith's lawyer Mark Edgar said both the Crown and defence agreed his client fired two shots.
But Jeffries-Smith's actions were not intended to kill Waite but motivated by his fear after the Mongrel Mob enforcer "repeatedly threatened him and his family", Edgar said.
Edgar said the Crown's suggestion Waite was not someone who needed to be feared was not borne out by the evidence of numerous witnesses.
"The Crown would also have you believe Casino Williams was overheard telling Colin the day before the shooting to 'stand up for himself' and shoot Waite."
Edgar said this claim was also inconsistent with other witnesses' evidence.
Jeffries-Smith told police Waite tried to stab him in the throat during an earlier encounter after the deceased turned up at his mother's property.
Edgar said two independent witnesses, although not seeing any weapon, confirmed Waite was "aggressive" and one witness told police Jeffries-Smith's face turned "white as a ghost".
Jeffries-Smith also told police during a formal interview he saw Waite with a gun on the day of the shooting, possibly a "sawn-off shotgun".
"Colin says when he returned to The Trap to ask for car keys back, Waite yells out "you better have the f****n money or your f****n family is going to get it," Edgar said.
"At that point, Colin makes his fatal decision."
Feeling like a "sitting duck", his client believed he had no choice but to pull the trigger as Waite was running down the stairs and he thought he was going to retrieve a lethal weapon.
"Colin was faced with the gravest fear imaginable and believed those threats were real."
Despite telling an associate he hoped Waite would die, Jeffries-Smith was adamant he just wanted to stop him from harming his family, but did not intend to kill him, Edgar said.
In closing the prosecution's case, Crown solicitor Anna Pollett said there was "no clearer case of murder" as Jeffries-Smith "lay in wait" for Waite armed with the loaded Ruger.
Instead of walking away after Waite rebuffed his demands for his car keys, the defendant chose to stay and shot "an unarmed Waite in the back twice", she said.
There was no evidence of threats made by Waite against Colin or his family, nor evidence of any attempt to stab the defendant in the throat, Pollett said.
It was "implausible" for Williams to claim he had no knowledge of what happened when the evidence clearly showed he was "up to his eyeballs in it".
The trial resumes today when William's lawyer will close his case, followed by Justice Mark Woolford who will sum up the Crown and defence cases.