Whangārei man jailed for helping a nephew who did a gang shooting

By Contributor

A Head Hunters gang member lived in this Whangarei house with his family when rivals from Christchurch's Mongols MC gang, fired five shots into it. A neighbour's house was also hit. Photo / Google

A teenager prospecting for a gang in the South Island flew to Auckland where he collected a firearm before bussing to Whangārei for an organised hit on a rival gang member.

Te Waiariki Phillips, 18, was allegedly assisted in his mission by his brother, father, and uncle.

His uncle Rodney Steven Phillips, 51, was sentenced yesterday in Whangārei District Court to 12 months' jail, immediately after pleading guilty to two amended charges of being an accessory to imprisonable offences of discharging a firearm with intent to do grievous bodily harm and arson.

Phillips had initially been charged with the actual offences. He had also been charged with being part of a criminal group but that charge was withdrawn.

The Crown agreed to change its charges against Phillips after accepting his role was limited to transporting Te Waiariki from the bus stop in Whangārei to his father's house in Pataua North and eventually back to Auckland Airport.

It was accepted he was not present when the criminal activities for which others were charged, happened.

Phillips has already served the equivalent of the jail sentence while on remand in custody so will be released soon.

According to an agreed summary of facts, Phillips' nephew Te Waiariki was living in Christchurch prospecting for the Mongols MC when he was given the word to head north and carry out a hit on a senior patched member of the Northland chapter of the Head Hunters.

Te Waiariki and his brother, who was also living in Christchurch, flew together to Auckland on April 30, last year, then bussed to Whangārei. Te Waiariki had in a backpack a semi-automatic carbine chambered SKS rifle he collected in Auckland.

Arriving in Whangārei, the pair were picked up by their uncle Rodney Phillips who took them to stay at their father's house.

About 1.45pm on Friday, May 7 last year, Te Waiariki went to a house in Aubrey St, Pataua North, where he stole a van. It was later seen parked in the driveway of a Tikipunga house.

About 6.20pm it was driven away from the house in convoy with a black Honda Odyssey, to Brunner Tce, a cul de sac in Kamo where the Head Hunters rival lived.

Te Waiariki and others were in the van with the gun. The van parked a short distance from the targeted man's home. About 10 minutes later someone in the van fired the gun five times towards the house.

Three bullets went through multiple walls, including a child's bedroom. Another bullet ended up in the roof cavity of a neighbouring house. People were home at the time but no one was injured.

The van was driven to another road in Kamo, where it was torched about 10 minutes later.

Everyone in the van, including Te Waiariki, fled in the Odyssey.

Te Waiariki was taken to meet up with his uncle Rodney Phillips, who drove him to Auckland Airport – doing so in the knowledge Te Waiariki had just committed imprisonable offences of discharging a firearm with intent to do grievous bodily harm and arson.

Te Waiariki missed his flight but got another one the next day back to Christchurch.

Police found the gun inside the burned-out van, which was completely destroyed.

Sentencing Phillips, Judge John McDonald noted there was no guideline judgment for this type of offending. But the actual imprisonable offences, to which Phillips was an accessory, were right at the top of the criminal code.

The judge said this was a planned gang hit on a rival gang, however it wasn't shooting up a gang pad it was a shooting up of a gang member's private house, where the Head Hunters member lived with his family.

People should feel safe in their own homes, the judge said.

He set a sentence starting point of 18 months' imprisonment.

There was no uplift for previous offending. While Phillips had a long list of prior convictions, none were for crimes like this, the judge said.

Because Phillips pleaded guilty immediately after the Crown charge schedule was amended, he got a full 25 per cent plea discount.

Te Waiariki has pleaded guilty to charges he faced and will be sentenced on October 6. His father is also facing charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. His case is tracking towards a jury trial.

Te Waiariki's brother who travelled with him from Christchurch, is no longer facing charges.