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Number of charges in kidnap case cut down

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/11/2016

More than 100 charges against nine men accused of kidnapping a wealthy businessman and his employee with associated violence charges have been whittled down to 62.

A jury in the High Court at Rotorua was told of the deductions on Monday after more than two days of legal arguments in their absence.

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

It is claimed the men are either members of the Head Hunters gang or associated with it.

All but two of the charges relate to February 17 and 18 last year.

The exceptions are allegations Dwyer and Gunning robbed the businessman's girlfriend of a cellphone at Tauranga on January 20, 2015. This is the sole charge against Gunning.

The remaining charges are kidnapping, participation in an organised criminal group, aggravated robbery, robbery, assault with intent to injure, recklessly discharging a firearm, assault with a weapon, injury with intent to injure, unlawfully taking a VW Polo, the theft of the businessman's Audi by Daly and one charge of unlawfully possessing a firearm laid against Kane.

Closing the crown's case, prosecutor Chris Macklin laid out a time line.

He said it began when the businessman, whose identity is suppressed, had a liaison with a woman on his boat.

The fact a sex toy was involved was not relevant to the charges, but when the liaison became known the businessman became a target.

"An organised criminal group was formed that led to serious violent offending against [the businessman] and [his maintenance man]," Mr Macklin said.

He told the jury that initially the maintenance worker had been assaulted and kidnapped and, while he was being taken to Rotorua from Tauranga in the businessman's truck, Daly fired a shot out the window.

The maintenance man was taken to a Rotorua house where he was assaulted, had a gun put in his mouth and had teaspoons ground under his eyelids.

The worker eventually led the group to the businessman's Lake Tarawera retreat where the businessman was put in headlock by Daly then taken by the group to his remote Taupo farm where demands were made for his property portfolio and vehicles.

The businessman was taken to Taupo where he withdrew $10,000 from a bank giving the group $7000. Mr Macklin said this was through fear of further violence.

He urged the jury not to be influenced by the fact that the businessman, his worker and girlfriend smoked P or lived different lifestyles to themselves.

"The fact is they gave evidence of serious violence to extract property from [the businessman] and you can rely on that evidence," he said.

Defence lawyers will begin their addresses on Tuesday.

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