Four members of the King Cobras gang have pleaded guilty to a vicious assault outside a Christchurch gay bar of four men that left one in a coma with a fractured skull.
Junior Faaiva, brothers Miguel Moagutuuli and Marcus Moagutuuli, and a fourth man appeared in the High Court at Christchurch before Justice Rob Osborne this morning.
The men pleaded guilty to a raft of charges between them relating to their individual parts in the attack including causing grievous bodily harm with intent to injure, injuring with intent to injure, assault with intent to injure, assault, unlawful possession of non-prohibited firearm parts, unlawful possession of ammunition and failure to carry out obligation in relation to a computer search.
A fifth man has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the assault and is due to go to trial later this year.
Faaiva, the Moagutuuli brothers and the fourth man - who has interim name suppression - will be sentenced on April 18.
Justice Osborne ordered a number of pre-sentence reports, including whether home detention is suitable for several of the men.
According to the police summary of facts, each of the men are patched members of the King Cobras aside from the fourth man who was a prospect of the gang.
King Cobras gang member Marcus Moagutuuli pleaded guilty to several charges in the High Court at Christchurch. Photo / George Heard
About 2.40am on March 21, 2021, the men and several associates arrived at Cruz Bar on Victoria St, Christchurch.
Shortly after 3am, one of the victims arrived and entered the bar. Three of the other victims arrived moments later and joined the queue to enter the bar, however, they were turned away when they got to the front of the line.
The three men then walked down the road to the nearby dairy.
Three of the defendants then also left the bar and went in the direction of the victims. An associate of the defendants gestured to the victims for them to come back. The defendants returned to the bar and stood inside the entranceway near the doorman.
One of the defendants, who has pleaded not guilty, allegedly told the doorman to let the three victims into the bar.
Upon entering the bar the victims were surrounded by the defendants.
The victims then went to leave the bar, and there was some “pushing and shoving” between the two groups. As they were exiting one of the defendants punched one of the victims. They all then spilled out onto the street.
The gang members chased the three victims out of the bar and across the road, chasing them all down.
One of the victims was punched several times causing him to fall to the ground. He tried to protect himself by curling up and covering his head. He was kicked and punched repeatedly over his head and body.
Another of the victims had his head held off the ground by one of the defendants while the others punched and kicked him in the head and face until he was unconscious.
The assault happened outside the Cruz Bar on Victoria St, Christchurch. Photo / George Heard
The defendants continued to stomp, kick, and punch him about the head while he was unconscious.
A member of the public yelled at the gang members to stop, or they would kill the victim. The defendants ignored this and continued the attack.
The victim’s brother attempted to stop the attack on his brother. He was knocked to the ground by the defendants who kicked, punched, and stomped on his head until he was unconscious.
Another of the victims then ran to him and lay over his head in an attempt to shield him from the group. He was kicked in the face, dragged off his friend, and punched and kicked about the head.
One of the victims suffered a fractured skull, a brain bleed, and brain damage.
He was placed in intensive care and was in a coma for a number of days. He was hospitalised for weeks following the attack before being moved to Wellington Hospital for specialist rehabilitation. He sustained “life-changing injuries” as a result of the attack, the summary of facts said.
His brother suffered severe bruising and swelling to his right eye and bruising and swelling to his head. He had a severe concussion and has ongoing issues with his memory and headaches.
Another of the victims suffered bruising and swelling to his head, face, and body. The fourth victim had a concussion, and bruising and swelling to his face, head, and body.
On May 7, 2021, police searched Miguel Moagutuuli’s home. Two 22-calibre silencers were located in his bedroom. There were also 50 rounds of 22LR ammunition. He did not hold a firearms licence and had no reason to be in possession of firearm parts or ammunition.
Police seized his cellphone, and when a police officer asked for his PIN code he replied “I’m not giving you my PIN”.
At the fourth man’s house, underneath his bed, was one Bushmaster XM15 semi-automatic rifle, one Benelli bolt action shotgun, and one Tikka T3X bolt action rifle. The Benelli bolt action rifle and the Tikka T3X rifle were identified as being stolen in separate burglaries.
Ammunition was also found in his bedroom. He did not hold a firearms licence.
Anna Leask is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers national crime and justice. She joined the Herald in 2008 and has worked as a journalist for 18 years. She writes, hosts and produces the award-winning podcast A Moment In Crime, released monthly on nzherald.co.nz
Sam Sherwood is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers crime. He is a senior journalist who joined the Herald in 2022, and has worked as a journalist for 10 years.
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