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Court cleared out as security forced to break up aggression between families at Whangārei murder trial

Whangarei High and District Court

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Whangarei High and District Court
Photo: Ministry of Justice website

A jury has had to be removed from the room and shouting, wailing, and threats in the public gallery have forced security to break up aggression between families at a murder trial this afternoon.

Two siblings are on trial in the High Court at Whangārei.

They are accused of killing 23-year-old Haze Peihopa just before midnight on Saturday 12 June last year.

Family members of the deceased approached the defendants, one yelling, “you should have f***ing killed yourself”.

The judge, defendants, jury, and some members of the public were hurried out of the courtroom, and have just returned.

The uproar came as CCTV evidence was played to the jury, including evidence of Peihopa being stabbed and collapsing on Bank St, in the central city.

The Crown says the man was murdered by a youth who supplied a knife, and his brother who used it for stabbing.

Earlier, prosecutor Mike Smith told the jury Peihopa died when a knife was swung at him multiple times.

One blow pierced through his rib, lung and an artery – to his backbone.

“After those swings, after the stabbing, Mr Peihopa backs up some more, again still trying to keep the two of them in front of him and it ends up it would seem, backing up to the wall.”

Defence counsel Steven Lack said the jury could not be sure his client, the older brother who used the knife, intended to kill or realised his actions would be likely to cause death.

He said his client was heavily intoxicated: “Both from the consumption of alcohol but also through consuming nitrous oxide earlier in the evening and that was so much so that following his arrest the police determined that he was too intoxicated to interview”.

Ron Mansfield KC, defending the younger brother, said his client did not strike the fatal blow, and “simply wasn’t involved” in causing the injury in the brawl.

“There were many more than just these two, and as you will see, that there were a number of people around Mr Peihopa at the time he was fatally injured.”

The trial is expected to take up to two weeks.

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