After four days of deliberation, a jury delivered guilty verdicts for two individuals implicated in the abduction and confinement of a man in the boot of his car.
However, while one was found guilty on all charges, the other was convicted on only two counts.
Cliff Wharerau and Alexander Coe were both charged with aggravated robbery, using a firearm against law enforcement, kidnapping, participating in organised crime, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and doing a dangerous act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and arson.
At the High Court trial in Whangārei, the jury retired on Thursday, November 30 to deliberate and was released over the weekend.
They returned Monday to continue deliberations and gave their verdicts around midday on Wednesday, December 6.
Wharerau was found guilty on all charges and Coe guilty of possession of a firearm and participating in an organised criminal group.
The jury heard evidence that in the days leading up to Labour weekend 2020, Coe and Wharerau are alleged to have been planning a robbery targeting a bank and an Armourguard truck.
Together with a young prospect, *David, the trio allegedly scoped out Northland, arranged a decoy car and rehearsed practice runs to execute their criminal plan. Both Wharerau and Coe have links to the Rebels MC gang.
However, the plan took a turn on the evening of October 26, when they were allegedly travelling in a Honda Odyssey near Waipapa and saw a “side hustle” opportunity and allegedly decided to rob a man in a parked Nissan Skyline.
The Crown said they disguised their appearance then forced the man out of his vehicle at gunpoint, blindfolded him and made him lie on the ground while they took his phone, keys and bank card.
With the victim in the backseat of the car, Coe and Wharerau allegedly drove the victim’s car to ATMs around Northland to get cash from his bank account. At some point, his wrists were bound and he was moved to the boot of the vehicle.
In the early hours of the following morning, the victim managed to escape the boot of the car in Matauri Bay and sought help from a local resident.
After searching for the escaped victim, Coe, Wharerau and David allegedly headed back to the mid-North area but as they were driving along Puketona Rd towards Kerikeri, they noticed a marked police car driving behind them.
The Crown says the men stopped the Nissan Skyline in front of the police officer and exited with firearms, one firing a shot that hit the windscreen.
It is alleged that after fleeing the scene, they set fire to the Skyline and returned to Auckland, leaving a trail of evidence.
The men will be sentenced at a later date.
Shannon Pitman is a Whangārei-based reporter for Open Justice covering courts in the Te Tai Tokerau region. She is of Ngāpuhi/ Ngāti Pūkenga descent and has worked in digital media for the past five years. She joined NZME in 2023.
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