North Shore Attacks, Trial Starts (updated) – Guilty Pleas Entered

17 August
In January of 2008 two particularly brutal and seemingly unprovoked attacks took place in North Shore, Auckland.

A young couple Ericka Rancourt, 21, and Oskar Carroll, 25, were minding their own business and quietly walking home in Lake Rd at around 4am on the 15th when they were viciously attacked by a gang of men. Ericka was so badly injured that she needed brain surgery.

Just hours before a Russian couple, Denis Khotchenko and his girlfriend Lera Nesterova were sitting in their car in Milford when they were set upon, allegedly by the same gang. They were beaten with a baseball bat, Ms Nesterova’s eye socket and one of her fingers was broken before she managed to escape by swimming the Milford inlet to find refuge in the home of a local resident. Mr Khotchenko was also injured and beaten around the head.

Also on the same evening there was said to be an attack on a boy on Takapuna beach but it is unclear if this is included in this trial.

At the time of the attacks press reports stated that four Glenfield youths and a youth from Piha were arrested in connection with the attack on the two couples.

Today the trial of the accused began: Piri Valli Kirton, 18, Harlem Haynui Kirton 19, Jono Paul Wilson, 20, and Ruaumoko Taiapa, 21, are jointly charged with aggravated robbery, causing grievous bodily harm, injuring with intent to injure, and assault with intent to rob.

Taiapa is also charged with one count of injuring with intent to injure (source New Zealand Herald)

This trial is going to attract a lot of attention – unprovoked attacks in North Shore are relatively uncommon events and many feel revulsion at the injuries the victims received, especially the women. At the time there was some speculation about the attacks being linked to a gang expansion bid. See : “Savage attacks linked to gang expansion bid

Update 19 August

Today all four accused entered guilty pleas, Kiriana Taiapa, the mother of one of the four accused, also pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact. She admitted to trying to get rid of 3 metals bars used in the attack. Full details here North Shore attack accused plead guilty

Update 20 August

Evidence from the prosecution continued today and more details about the terrible night of violence emerged, including the assaults on the two separate couples and Daniel Sawfford, a young man cycling along Taharoto Rd at 1am. Evidence was given that the young thugs had watched the movie “American Gangster” before leaving the house looking for trouble in North Shore, Auckland. More here: “Gangster film sets the scene”

‘Savage attacks linked to gang expansion’

19 Jan 2008 Weekend NZ Herald

“New Zealand’s fastest-growing gang has spread to the North Shore, and is linked to this week’s hyper-violent attacks.

The Weekend Herald has learned that one of those charged with the attacks, an 18-year-old from Glenfield, has a close family connection to the North Shore “recruiter” for the street gang, known as the Killer Beez, that started in the South Auckland suburb of Otara and now has followers throughout the city.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams last night described the gang’s presence as “disturbing”.

He said he would meet police next week to make sure street gangs did not get a foothold on the North Shore, and wanted to tell the Killer Beez or any of their counterparts considering crossing the bridge it was no “soft touch” more: here