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Lawyer Complains At Absence Of Evidence Against Murder Accused

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tauranga, Oct 14 NZPA - A lawyer complained in Tauranga District Court today that he had no idea what evidence police had for charging his client with murder.

Paul Mabey QC told Judge James O'Donovan that none of the counsel for three defendants accused of killing two missing Tauranga men had received "a single page of disclosure" -- not even the summary of facts -- from the prosecution.

"I know no bodies have been located but other than that I don't know the facts against them," he said.

He recorded "the strongest objection" that police had not progressed the case, which was scheduled for a depositions hearing date to be set today.

Mr Mabey represents John Aitken, 33, and also appeared on behalf of Glenn Dickson for David Peter James Anderson, 41.

Both men, who come from Tauranga's Welcome Bay, are charged with murdering William Taikato, 40, on or about December 19 last year.

A third man Mark Haimona, 50, Te Puke, faces two counts of murder -- one of Mr Taikato and the other of Darrell James Crawford, 36, on or about August 12, 2007.

Haimona was not in the dock with the co-accused and lawyer Simon Whitehead asked for his attendance to be excused because of "some slip up at the prison".

No further explanation was given.

Mr Mabey told the judge: "I stand (here) in complete absence of any facts about why these men are before you."

Despite the trio having been in custody for five weeks, he said, "police have not seen fit to give me a single piece of paper".

Crown prosecutor Greg Hollister-Jones said it was "unfortunate" that the summary had not been provided to defence counsel.

"It could have been."

Judge O'Donovan said he had copies of the summary on the court files.

He further remanded the three men in custody until December 2 for another pre-depositions hearing.

There was heightened security at the court before today's appearance. Guards frisked people entering the public gallery before Aitken and Anderson were ushered in from the cells.

The three accused, who police say have strong gang affiliations, were charged on September 8.

Their arrests followed months of inquiries into the separate disappearances of Mr Taikato and Mr Crawford.

Although their bodies have not yet been found, neither man has accessed bank accounts or contacted family since they were last seen.

Police say they are confident the two have been murdered in relation to their involvement with methamphetamine.

The pair, who knew each other casually, had ties with the Mongrel Mob and Greasy Dogs gangs in Tauranga and were known to be heavily into the local drug scene.

The murder investigations, Operation Burd and Operation Orca, are ongoing. A $50,000 reward is being offered in each case for information.

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