Prison murder trial: Lethal weapon snuck into Paremoremo yard a shock, lawyer says

One among a trio of murder-accused Paremoremo inmates says he just wanted to help his new friend fight off a rival gang member.

Paul Simon Tuliloa arrived at Auckland Prison in Paremoremo the same day Blake John Lee was killed in a stabbing and stomping attack on March 5 last year.

Tuliloa, 25, said he and a fellow Killer Beez member were busy fighting a different inmate when Lee was getting killed in the prison yard.

Tuliloa, Riki Wiremu Ngamoki and Lopeti Telefoni have all pleaded not guilty to murder.

In Auckland, High Court jurors have been told a fourth man, who has name suppression, shanked Lee and stomped on him.

Defence counsel Julie Ding said Tuliloa was 23 at the time and had just been transferred to Paremoremo from Spring Hill prison in the North Waikato.

Tuliloa has admitted intentionally injuring another prisoner called Cesar Su’a in the same jail yard where Lee was killed.

And Ding said the Crown had already admitted it had no evidence Tuliloa knew a fight was coming.

She said Tuliloa had no desire to assist the man who stabbed Lee, and did not know that man had smuggled a shank or shiv into the maximum security prison’s yard.

“There was no reason to expect or suspect a fatal weapon to be present on the yard that day.”

Tuliloa gave evidence in his own defence, saying he was “just cuffed into a steel box” and transported from Spring Hill.

He said after arriving in Paremoremo, he saw Lee through a cell window and exchanged a smile and wave.

Tuliloa told the court he met Ngamoki while officers were escorting him to his new cell.

“I couldn’t help but look and see [the] same tattoos as me. He was a Killer Bee, like me.”

He said Ngamoki arranged for him to get a “starter pack” of food, toiletries and writing paper, and Tuliloa appreciated this gesture.

Tuliloa said he then went to the yard, and greeted everyone present.

“There was more than I thought there would be, how many inmates were in one yard, new faces.”

Jurors have been told Mongrel Mob members were in the same yard as the Killer Beez shortly before violence broke out.

Tuliloa said initially the mood in the yard was surprisingly mellow.

Jurors heard Ngamoki removed his watch and voiced a desire to have a “round” or fight with Su’a.

“Ngamoki said: ‘Brother, hold this’. Instantly I was worried, knowing that Ngamoki could go into a fight and get hurt. I just met him that day and I was pretty fond of him.”

Tuliloa said he got involved in the fight to help his new friend, and while this scuffle was underway, he saw nothing of the attack on Lee.

Prosecutor David Johnstone suggested the presence of Mongrel Mob members agitated Ngamoki, but Tuliloa rejected that.

Tuliloa also said he had no idea the man attacking Lee had a shank.

“I just remember the officers rushing through the door, screaming at us.”

Telefoni has admitted throwing the first punch at Lee, but denied having any murderous intent.

Ngamoki’s defence team has argued his fight with Su’a was not directed at isolating Lee,and was a simultaneous but separate conflict.

The Crown has argued the accused men attacked Su’a so that Lee could be rendered helpless.

The trial before Justice Simon Moore and the jury continues.

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