By: Sam Hurley, New Zealand Herald
A young father and his wife were shot several times during an execution-style killing along an Auckland street by three members of the Comanchero Motorcycle Club, a court has heard.
The trial of two of the gangsters, Fisilau Tapaevalu and Mesui Tufui, began today in the High Court at Auckland.
They are accused of murdering Epalahame Tu’uheava and attempting to murder his wife Yolanda (Mele) Tu’uheava, both of whom were shot multiple times on April 30 last year in Māngere.
Tu’uheava, who was a young father also known as Hame or Abraham, died within minutes from his wounds.
Yolanda, however, survived by “some miracle” after playing dead, the court heard.
Viliami Taani, a third Comanchero member described by Yolanda as the “main guy”, pleaded guilty last week to murder and attempted murder.
This morning, Crown prosecutor Claire Robertson told the jury Tu’uheava and his wife were lured into what they thought was a drug deal on Greenwood Rd with “some new guys”.
Tu’uheava and his wife’s life in the criminal world had developed after the pair moved from Auckland to Sydney in 2014, Robertson said.
The pair lived in Australia for three years, where Tu’uheava also became a patched member of the Nomads gang, a splinter group formed originally by Black Power members.
In 2017 the couple returned to New Zealand but during the following year Tu’uheava began selling methamphetamine and also developed a relationship with the Comancheros.
But, Robertson explained, his relationship with the gang soured.
It would lead to Tu’uheava being shot at least seven times, including three times in the head.
“They executed him,” Robertson said.
The trio also “did their best to kill his wife” who was shot at least four times, including twice in the head with a revolver, she said.
After attempting to run and hide from the three Comancheros, Yolanda came out with her hands on head and begged the trio to forgive her husband, the court heard.
But the trio showed no mercy, Robertson continued.
Yolanda only survived, the court heard, after she played dead while her husband was gunned down with a .22 calibre semi-automatic rifle.
The couple were later found by a passing motorist lying on the side of the road.
“By some miracle [Yolanda] was still alive,” Robertson said.
Surgeons, however, were unable to remove one of the bullets from her head because of the risk to damaging her brain.
Police later found the revolver and rifle during a raid on a Te Atatu property.
The court head the killing may have been ordered from Comanchero leadership in Australia.
The three gang members had been given the “green light to kill”, Robertson said.
She added: “It appears there was some bad blood between the Comancheros and Tu’uheava.”
It may have been fallout from a drug deal or robbery gone wrong, Robertson said, but the why is “not something we will get to the bottom of”.
The trial continues.