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Murder suspect pleads not guilty to gunning down Mongrel Mob boss outside Auckland church

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 1 Feb 2023, 9:52am

Murder suspect pleads not guilty to gunning down Mongrel Mob boss outside Auckland church

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 1 Feb 2023, 9:52am

A man accused of gunning down a prominent Mongrel Mob leader in front of a South Auckland church a week before Christmas has appeared for the first time in the High Court at Auckland, where he pleaded not guilty to murder.

Justice Sally Fitzgerald approved a request from defence lawyer Matthew Goodwin that the 41-year-old Henderson resident keep interim name suppression. Other aspects of the case are also suppressed.

A trial date was set for May 2024.

The defendant was arrested on Jan 29, 12 days after Daniel Eliu’s death and one day after his raucous but non-violent funeral, which included motorcycle revving, haka, barking and chants of “Seig f***ing heil” as his casket was carried to his grave by patched Mongrel Mob members.

Eliu, also known by the nickname Sa-Dan Notorious, had been boss of the gang’s “Notorious” chapter in Auckland.

Police earlier said Eliu appeared to have been “deliberately targeted” as he was fatally gunned down on the morning of December 17 in front of Papatoetoe Seventh-Day Adventist Community Church on Puhinui Rd, near Manukau City Centre.

The 46-year-old had been attending a graduation for the Grace Foundation, a Christian-based intensive rehabilitation programme catering to those “truly on the margins of New Zealand society” who are seeking to put their criminal pasts behind them.

Although Eliu wasn’t graduating himself that day, he had been in the programme for about six months.

The group, which holds such events each Saturday, was waiting outside the church about 10am for a Christmas meal when the shooting occurred.

Police are still looking to identify anyone else who may have been involved in the homicide, Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Va’aelua said in a statement on the day the defendant was arrested.

Man charged with the murder of Daniel Eliu appeared in Manukau District Court via audio-video feed in December. Photo / Craig Kapitan

Man charged with the murder of Daniel Eliu appeared in Manukau District Court via audio-video feed in December. Photo / Craig Kapitan

During the defendant’s first court appearance on the murder charge last month — in Manukau District Court, just a short drive from where the shooting took place — armed officers patrolled the premises amid heightened security. No one wearing gang regalia, however, attended the brief hearing. He was remanded without plea to await today’s High Court appearance.

Run-ins with the law

Eliu had been the subject of media attention multiple times prior to his death due to his own run-ins with the law.

His most high-profile crime, for which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, involved a 2006 knife attack and revenge kidnapping of a man whom Eliu suspected had “narked” on a gang-affiliated friend of his — allegedly telling police about the friend’s possession of a loaded pistol.

Mongrel Mob boss Daniel Eliu was shot dead in front of a South Auckland church. Photo / File

Mongrel Mob boss Daniel Eliu was shot dead in front of a South Auckland church. Photo / File

Using a boxcutter, Eliu slashed the victim’s face from his jaw to his hairline, which the Court of Appeal would later describe as “a particularly bad crime of its kind”.

He was convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

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