Supreme Court rejects former Comanchero boss’s application to appeal earlier decision

    The New Zealand Supreme Court has rejected an application by former president of the Comanchero Motorcycle Club to appeal a decision of the Court of Appeal dismissing his conviction appeal.

    Pasilika Naufahu is on trial for drug, money laundering and organised crime charges. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

    Pasilika Naufahu, who is of Tongan descent, was jailed in February 2021 by Justice Graham Lang over his role in a money laundering and drugs scheme.

    He was arrested following a series of raids across Auckland in April 2019, in which more than $3.7 million in assets was seized along with luxury cars, motorbikes, high-end luggage and jewellery.

    Naufahu moved to Sydney with his family when he was one year old. In 2016 he was deported to New Zealand after short prison stints in Australia.

    The court was told that police intercepts between Samuel Vaisevuraki and  Mr Sha demonstrated they planned to supply pseudoephedrine valued at $1 million to an unnamed third party, alleged to be Naufahu.

    Naufahu was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, later reduced to nine years.

    He appealed his sentence in the Court of Appeal, which rejected his application.

    He then lodged an application to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision.

    That application was based on questions of whether certain hearsay evidence given at the original trial was admissible.

    The Evidence Act said that in criminal proceedings, a hearsay statement was admissible against a defendant if there was reasonable evidence of a conspiracy or joint enterprise; reasonable evidence that the defendant was a member of the conspiracy or joint enterprise and the hearsay statement was made in furtherance of the conspiracy or joint enterprise.

    The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s finding that these statements were admissible.

    The Supreme Court rejected Naufahu’s appeal.

    The Supreme Court ruled that there was enough evidence to suggest that Mr Naufahu was “probably” involved in the pseudoephedrine deal.

    There was also insufficient merit in this argument to warrant the granting of leave to appeal.

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