By Tom Furley, Radio New Zealand
A woman shot in the head while her husband was killed has described how he opened a bag full of cash during a drug deal shortly before the attack.
Fisilau Tapaevalu and Mesui Tufui are on trial in the High Court in Auckland charged with the murder of ‘Epalahame Tu’uheava, 28, and attempting to murder his wife Yolanda Tu’uheava, 25.
Mr Tu’uheava, also known as Abraham or Hame, was found dead by a member of the public on Greenwood Road in Mangere on 1 May 2018, His wife was found alongside him suffering serious gunshot wounds.
A third man, Viliami Taani, pleaded guilty to the two charges last week.
On Wednesday, Mrs Tu’uheava gave evidence via video link wearing a headscarf and at times struggling to recall events in the lead up to the attack.
She was shot several times, including in the head, and a bullet remains lodged in her brain.
The couple moved to Sydney in 2014 where her husband worked as a truck driver and became “really, really close” with the leader of the Nomads gang, she told the court.
“I don’t know if he was like officially patched, he was just around them a lot.”
She said communication with gang members continued over social media when they moved back to South Auckland in 2017.
On returning he also began contacting the Comancheros, having seen their bikes following the Tongan rugby league team during the Rugby League World Cup.
“I noticed he was watching these videos of the comos and their bikes, all these flash things that they had, so he was trying to find a way to get hold of them. He admired the material stuff they had.”
She said her husband had a meeting with the Comanchero gang leader and would communicate with members over social media including Snapchat.
She told the court she believed he had become involved in drug dealing after moving back to Auckland.
“It was just, he became secretive, like really secretive. He was on the phone a bit, yeah.”
A week before his death the couple drove from Auckland to Invercargill.
She told the court she couldn’t remember the reasons given by her husband but that they were “meant to be there a while”.
“He made it sound like it was a holiday. Honestly I had a feeling it was something else. I had a feeling like he was up to something dodgy, like drug dealing.”
On the morning of 30 April she found her husband had packed her suitcase and they were to fly back to Auckland from Dunedin.
When they arrived at the airport, she found one of their carry on bags was full of cash as she got out a jumper.
The bag contained $48,000, she said, and another black Adidas bag he was carrying over his shoulder had $15,000.
She said she didn’t know where he got the money but it could not be from his job as a truck driver
“It had to be something dodgy he was doing.”
She told the court she believed it was from drug dealing.
After arriving in Auckland they hired a car and rather than go home, Mr Tu’uheava spoke to someone on the phone and said he had a meeting at McDonalds in Manukau.
She said Mr Tu’uheava appeared anxious and disappeared for a time.
He returned across the carpark, while two men also walked towards a dark car.
“That’s when he started speaking about how they’re going to be like consistent for him”
“So like he can get whatever he was selling, whatever drug he was dealing through them, like it was going to be consistent.
The court heard how he appeared excited, and Mrs Tu’uheava later said he had a goal of making $50,000 a week.
After returning home she was woken up later that night by her husband who said he was once again going to meet with the men, this time to get what she believed were drugs before heading straight back down to Invercargill.
Both bags full of cash were still in the car, the court heard.
The couple drove to meet the men at Greenwood Road in Mangere, where she said he got out of the car and spoke with one of them in Tongan.
“I couldn’t hear what they were talking about but I could hear them laughing. I remember seeing my husband look inside his Adidas bag and I was thinking to myself he shouldn’t open it in front of the guy or else he would see all the money.”
They were talking for about five minutes before the men departed “to get the stuff”.
Mrs Tu’uheava is to continue giving evidence at the trial today.