A man has been found not guilty of wounding a 501 deportee who was shot through the leg after telling the Mongrel Mob to leave him alone.
However, Paul Phillip Keil has been found guilty on two counts of assaulting the man with intent to injure, by punching him and kicking or stomping on him.
Keil, 37, has now been released on bail with a night-time curfew after spending 11 months in jail on remand.
He will be sentenced in May.
Judge Russell Collins suppressed the victim’s name before the man gave evidence in the week-long jury trial in Napier District Court.
Police said he was a “reluctant witness” who had a home-made taser and a 3D-printed loaded firearm in his bedroom, along with a small amount of methamphetamine.
The man told the court that he was a “career criminal” who, after 22 years of living in Australia, was deported under Section 501 of that country’s Migration Act, which allows criminals to be sent back to their country of origin.
He said that he was employed and trying to live a different life in New Zealand when the Mongrel Mob began calling.
The man said they wanted him to “pay them to leave me alone”.
When he told the mobsters to go away or he would call police, they said he could not do that because; “We’re the Mongrel Mob”, the man told the court.
“I wanted the drama to stop, because they kept coming round to my house again and again,” he said.
He gave them the keys to a car and was in his garden shed looking at a “nice motorcycle” with two other men on the day he was shot – 2 December, 2021.
One of the men in the shed was Paul Keil, whom the deportee had been warned to look out for.
The other was described as an “unknown person” in court documents.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Cameron Stuart said the victim was “no angel”, but he was entitled to the protection of the law.
“He is free, just like you, just like me, to live peacefully in this town, free from intimidation, free from violence,” Stuart told the jury.
Stuart said that the man texted a friend to say “I just got shot by Paul K” while still in the emergency department at the hospital.
The victim later gave an accurate description of the accused and picked him out from a photo montage.
Prison phone calls played to the court also suggested Keil was responsible for the shooting, he said.
However, defence counsel Scott Jefferson said that the gun used had not been found and there was no forensic evidence: no fingerprints, no DNA and no gunshot residues.
He said there were inconsistencies in the evidence given by the victim and his cousin, with whom he lived and who also took the stand.
“You are really left in a situation where you can’t be sure what has happened… You can’t be sure beyond reasonable doubt,” Jefferson told the jury.
He said that on 2 December, 2021, the victim told two different detectives that he did not know who shot him.
The victim had named Keil on 17 December, when he had himself been cautioned in relation to the meth, taser and firearm found in his room.
Jefferson said the victim was “self-preserving” at that point and it was “nonsense to be able to rely on a word that he said”.
The jury deliberated for two hours on Tuesday and a further hour on Wednesday before returning their verdicts.
They acquitted Keil of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
They found him guilty of the two charges of assault with intent to injure, which have a maximum penalty of three years in jail.
One of the assault charges was for punching the victim, and the other for kicking or stomping on him.
The court was told that the victim has been charged, convicted and sentenced for possession of the methamphetamine, taser and 3D-printed firearm.
* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz