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An Auckland-based Rebels MC gang member accused of having stabbed two seasonal workers – killing one – while participating in a brawl outside a Blenheim bar has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
George Pikaahu, who was initially charged with murder, admitted to the lesser charge today as he stood in the High Court at Auckland.
Justice Francis Cooke, who presided over the arraignment via audio-video feed in the High Court at Wellington, also accepted a guilty plea from Blenheim from fellow Rebels gang member Peter Uelese.
Uelese pleaded guilty to assault with intent to injure during the same brawl.
Both men are set to be sentenced in Blenheim in September.
A group of Rebels gang members were visiting Blenheim from Auckland on June 20, 2021, when they spent an evening at popular bar Club Envy on Market St, where a large group of seasonal workers were also gathered.
Two of the Rebels members assaulted one of the seasonal workers in a stairwell as the gang was leaving around 3am, leaving the seasonal worker unconscious.
Gang members were walking towards their vehicles when 23-year-old seasonal worker Vea Tonga and a 29-year-old friend heard of the stairwell attack and aggressively approached one of the gang members, punching him from behind.
Pikaahu, 34, who is secretary of the gang’s South Central Chapter, was about five metres away and ran to the fellow gang member’s assistance. He drew a knife from his waistband and thrust it into Tonga’s abdomen before turning to the 29-year-old and stabbing him in the sternum.
Tonga later died of the stab wound. The other man survived.
A large brawl between gang members and seasonal workers, estimated to have involved about 50 people, then ensured.
During the melee, according to authorities, Pikaahu attempted to stab a third person who managed to evade the blow.
Much of the incident was caught on CCTV.
Crown prosecutor Mark O’Donoghue acknowledged during the hearing that it might have been a risk to take the murder charge to trial “on the basis that Mr Pikaahu may have acted in self-defence in the beginning but then that moved into excessive self-defence.”
Justice Cooke responded that he had reviewed the CCTV footage himself several times as previous hearings.
“I can understand how you got to where you got to,” he said of the reduced charge.
Justice Cooke ordered Pikaahu, who has previously been on bail, remanded in custody to await sentencing. Uelese was allowed to remain on bail.
The two Rebels members who attacked a person in the stairwell that night have previously pleaded guilty to assault with intent to injure and have been given community-based sentences.
-By Craig Kapitan
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