Alleged killer ‘confessed’ to Nomads MC member murder, court hears

Joseph William Johnson and Chea Paratene Charles Brattle-Hemara Haeana are on trial for the murder of Palmiro MacDonald.

One of the men accused of murdering Palmiro MacDonald allegedly confessed to the killing, a court has heard.

A man, whose identity is suppressed, told the High Court at Palmerston North on Monday that Joseph William Johnson told him he’d killed MacDonald. 

Johnson and Chea Paratene Charles Brattle-Hemara Haeana, who goes by the surname Hemara, are on trial for MacDonald’s murder.

Nomads member MacDonald was allegedly tortured, shot and killed at a Hokio Beach club pad in March 2016, before having his body dumped near the Mangahao Dam to the east of the Horowhenua town of Shannon. 

Palmiro Macdonald was killed in 2016.
Palmiro Macdonald was killed in 2016.

The pad was later torched in an arson and MacDonald’s body was discovered in October that year. 

The man who gave evidence is a former club member who knew both MacDonald and Johnson.

The man was released from prison a month after MacDonald went missing and shortly afterwards he said he ran into Johnson at a shopping complex on Pioneer Highway in Palmerston North.

The man said Johnson invited the man into his car to smoke drugs and he asked Johnson what happened to MacDonald.

The man claimed Johnson told him he had killed MacDonald as payback for MacDonald taking Johnson’s car and because MacDonald had been taxing others.

“[Johnson] told me [MacDonald] was up the dams. He told me that he killed Palmiro.”

“He didn’t go into much detail. He said there was a lot of blood in the house and a lot of blood in the car and he had taken him up the dams.”

The man alleged Johnson told him he and others tied MacDonald to a chair.

“He told me he kicked him off his chair and shot him. He told me after he shot Palmiro in the back of the head.”

The man then said Johnson told him he burned the house down and burned the car they transported the body in.

“I was shocked in what I had just been told. I didn’t know what to say.”

The man said there was someone else in the car with them while they spoke, but he stayed quiet. The conversation went for about 15 minutes.

The man, who later gave a statement to police about the confession, and Johnson were both in prison in 2017 and the man alleged Johnson approached his cell and told him he had seen the man’s statement.

When questioned by defence lawyer Peter Brosnahan, the man denied he had gone to police with the information in exchange for a shorter sentence.

Brosnahan queried whether it was possible the two men, who were in separate wings in prison, could have spoken, but the man said they did.

Brosnahan also suggested there was a woman with the man at the Pioneer Highway meeting and Johnson had pulled up to talk to the man because the man had taxed a phone.

“I don’t know nothing about a girl. I don’t know nothing about a phone. I don’t know nothing about what you’re talking about,” the man said.