A gang president may have been pictured snorting a rather long line of cocaine, but it didn’t mean he was involved in the drug trade, his lawyer says.
Bill Nabney also told a jury in the High Court at Hamilton today that although his client, Jim ‘JD’ Thacker, was the president of the Mongols he did not have any control over what his members did.
Nabney was the first defence counsel to deliver his closing submissions after an 11-week trial and was quick to take aim at the Crown’s key witness, telling the jury they could not believe anything he said as they were simply stories he had made up.
He outlined that despite police obtaining a search warrant on 28 December, 2019 to monitor Thacker’s phone, they were unable to produce any evidence of him talking about drugs “of any sort”.
“Yet the Crown will have you believe that he is the [ringleader] in this drug operation.
“He is so good that he doesn’t falter for a six-month period.
“He doesn’t know his communications are being listened to and not once does he mention drugs.
“That’s because he’s not a drug dealer. He’s not involved in the drug trade.”
Thacker willingly admitted being deported from Australia, “he makes no bones about that”, he’d even got a number plate made – ‘DEPORTED’.
However, Nabney said he didn’t arrive in New Zealand penniless. He had his company, Taking Care of Bikes in Australia and set that up in Tauranga.
“That has to be borne in mind when you consider the evidence.”
Although he was the president, or ‘el presidente’ as he called himself, of the Mongols, it did not mean he had control over what the rest of the members did.
He also disputed all of the Crown’s key witness evidence, citing repeated times he “shifted” his evidence, changing his story when questioned by defence counsel.
“Every organisation has people who do things they’re not meant to do. The Mongols are no different and he certainly is not in control of everything that is going on.
“There were several conversations where you heard just that, ‘what’s going on?'”
Nabney said that also stretched to firearms. Just because some people were found in possession of firearms and ammunition, it did not mean Thacker had anything to do with it.
“How can the Crown prove that Mr Thacker had anything to do with those firearms.
“The Crown bring these charges and they’ve got to prove them.”
He also took aim at the witness’ claim about Thacker’s alleged cocaine use, in which he had stated he would use an ounce a week, “easy”.
“It’s simply not true because of the lack of corroborating evidence.”
Nabney said the witness’ story of having to put it in a gumboot at Thacker’s front door on delivery, “just doesn’t make sense”.
“It’s one of those stories where you think to yourself, ‘really?’
“What also doesn’t make sense is that no money seems to change hands … there’s no payment being made. Are people just giving Mr Thacker drugs?”
The witness had also claimed that he drove up and down the country delivering evidence for the gang.
However, Nabney also denied that ever happened.
“There’s not a single occasion that he is carrying meth because he never has.
“You will find Mr Thacker not guilty on that charge.”
The witness was so good at making up stories, Nabney said going through the evidence was like being in a movie.
“He’s up there on the [AVL] screen, looks at a photo, and ‘oh yeah, this is what happened’.
“The thing is there’s all these characters, Two Times. Like Jimmy Two Times out of Good Fellas.
“They’re not real but he uses these things to make it sound and feel real.”
“[Witness’] evidence is important for the Crown case. That’s why he got immunity. He was able to offer the crown something that they needed.
“What did he have to do to get immunity? He had to deliver up Mr Thacker and others in the Mongols.
“He also gets a lighter sentence. He goes from imprisonment to home detention.
However, his evidence had to be compelling, “just having Mr Thacker snorting a line of cocaine wasn’t going to cut it”.
The witness fabricated his evidence for his own benefit, Nabney submitted.
“As long as he kept on the party line … he could say whatever he wanted knowing it wasn’t going to affect him.”
Nabney cited three charges of unlawful possession of firearms – AK47 and AR15 – and ammunition which Thacker is jointly charged with between January 1, 2019 and May 19, 2019.
“This pre-dates the formation of the Mongols … that Mr Thacker had anything to do with them is incorrect.”
There was also his “story” about the methamphetamine being packaged in Chinese teabags.
Nabney said it was in questioning from him that the witness admitted seeing a documentary on YouTube about drugs being packaged in tea bags, however, he claimed he saw it after giving his evidence to police.
“It’s just another thing that he makes a story about.”
Thacker also faces several money laundering charges, two of which involve the spending of nearly $20,000 at Louis Vuitton in Auckland and the buying of jet skis.
“It’s just from money he’s got. It’s not money laundering.”
As for the shooting at a Haukore St house linked to the Mongrel Mob, Nabney said there was no evidence that Thacker encouraged or wanted that to happen or knew who was going to be involved.
Nine Mongols members, including Thacker – known as “JD”, “Jack Daniels”, “the Cap”, or “el Presidente” who had overarching control of its drug dealing operation – and Ronaki are defending 118 charges related to drug dealing and supply, firearms, aggravated robbery and money laundering.
The other defendants are Jason Ross, 46, Kelly Petrowski, 28, Matthew Ramsden, 45, Kane Ronaki, 24, Te Reneti Tarau, 26, and a 28-year-old man with interim name suppression.
The accused are either “office holders”, members, or associates of the Mongols from around the country, including Hawke’s Bay, Christchurch, and Auckland.
The Crown alleges they were responsible for the commercial supply of drugs throughout New Zealand and were involved in “tit-for-tat” shootings with rival gangs, including one in Tauranga, where Mongols members fired 96 rounds of ammunition at a house where children were.
The gang allegedly obtained, distributed, and broke down quantities of drugs and sold them for profit. They used the firearms to service that drug trade, Crown prosecutor Anna Pollett said.
* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz