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Kidnap trial: Armed man feared gang

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/11/2016

Fearing gang members were after him, a wealthy businessman armed himself with a cache of firearms keeping several loaded and close by, a jury in the High Court at Rotorua has heard.

On trial are nine men linked to the Head Hunters gang who face a slew of charges including abducting the businessman and an employee of his, whose identities are suppressed, using firearms against them and extortion.

They are: Stephen William Daly, 33, Jordan Alexander Christian, 21, David Peter Clark, 36, Benjamin Paul Dwyer, 28, Brent Anthony Gunning, 37, Liam John Kane, 24, Matthew John McDonnell, 45, Stacy Walton Dennis Paora, 29 and Sam Wiremu Rolleston 23.

They've each pleaded not guilty to more than 100 charges relating to events across the Bay of Plenty in January and February last year.

The businessman said on Friday that because he had grave concerns for his safety he had two rifles and two shotguns loaded and cocked at his lakeside retreat.

One was near him, but out of sight, when a group of men burst into the property but because he was woken from a deep sleep he hadn't considered reaching for it.

He told prosecutor Chris Macklin he'd constructed a place to store ammunition under the house because he'd lost his firearms licence.

He said during the attack it had spilled over into the bedroom where his girlfriend had fled, locking herself into the en suite.

"The fun and games started, the bed was flipped over so the en suite door could be ripped off its fitting, by then my girlfriend had gapped it," he said.

He described general chaos, people running around and recalled telling the group not to bother chasing her because she'd probably run to the neighbours, he hoped this would prompt his attackers to panic and leave.

Although still dazed and concussed, after being struck in the head with the butt of a rifle, he recalled being forced to his Audi then hustled back inside to find the key.

"There was a lot of pressure, urgency to find that key, until then I hadn't realised I was to be in it [the Audi]. I only remember bits and pieces, it was like a bad dream, I was scared, confused."

Once in the Audi it was driven to his Taupo property, a convoy of other vehicles, including his truck, following.

He told of demands made at gunpoint to hand over his Tauranga properties, including a luxury apartment.

He said those involved became a "little bit pissed off" when he explained they were tied up in trusts and companies and couldn't easily be transferred.

Questioned about the men who were with him, he branded them as "not to be messed with types of characters, formidable."

He said he attempted to smooth things over with them in the hope he'd be returned to Rotorua because of his grave concerns for his girlfriend's and the maintenance worker's safety.

Intervening, Justice Timothy Brewer asked: "Were you saying 'take me home and I will pay you a lot of money and not go to the police?"

Witness: "More or less . . . I wanted to get them out of my life,"

He said after several hours at his Taupo farm he was taken for a hot swim then to a bank.

Quizzed why he hadn't tried to escape or yell for help, he said he wanted to gain some trust.

"My strategy was to get the hell out of there as soon as possible, smooth things over without involving the police."

The court earlier heard he had fled to Melbourne for a short time after hearing a group of men looking for him after a woman, who the Crown says was a girlfriend of one of the gang members, was injured when a sex toy broke during a liaison aboard a boat with the businessman.

The trial is continuing.

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