Police discover meth ingredients and firearms at Taranaki gang shooting site

highway 61

A police search of a shot up Taranaki gang pad turned up hidden materials used to cook methamphetamine and a bag of firearms and ammunition.

In day five of the jury trial of Mitchell Whittaker, accused of opening fire on the Highway 61 motorcycle gang headquarters in Norman St, Waitara, on December 5, 2017, little evidence was heard about the defendant’s alleged involvement in the attack and more about what was discovered at the gang pad. 

In evidence, detective Anthony Temple said the items were discovered by police the night of the incident.

Within the gang’s fortified compound there was what appeared to be a “dumping pit” in the paddock area, he said on Friday.

The Highway 61 gang pad on Norman St, Waitara was ram-raided and shot up in December 2017. (file photo)
The Highway 61 gang pad on Norman St, Waitara was ram-raided and shot up in December 2017. (file photo)

In it was a black plastic container in which ingredients used to potentially make methamphetamine were found, he said. 

Next to the pit and hidden under weeds a bag containing five firearms – two sawn-off shotguns, two rifles and a pistol – was found and a number of live shells.

However, under cross-examination, Temple confirmed they were not linked to those who carried out the attack. 

The Crown allege Whittaker was one of a number of people who ram-raided the gang pad around 6pm the day of the incident.

One car smashed through the compound’s gates and a second followed. Both vehicles crashed into the house and the cars’ occupants used a shotgun and a .22 rifle to shoot into the headquarters.

Within minutes the attackers left the scene, leaving one car behind. 

There were three people inside at the time who had to duck for cover. 

When police arrived three gang associates were at the scene.

Temple said “things” had been moved around, including a sheet of corrugated iron placed in front of the house to conceal damage caused by the car.

A witness from the neighbouring Waitara Pony Club told the court he had just washed two horses and was returning them to the paddock at the time of the shooting.

He heard a quick succession of “three loud booms” followed by another two.

“I realised what it was…I just kept my head down,” he said. 

When he looked over towards the compound he saw a “short stocky” man scurrying about on all fours in the gang’s paddock.

He saw the man throw something into the bushes.

Crown prosecutor Cherie Clarke asked following witness sergeant Andrew Wong Too, one of the first officers on the scene, to physically describe John Jubb, a patched member of the gang who was at the pad during the shooting.

“Short and stocky,” Wong Too said.

In relation to the attack, Whittaker is defending charges of aggravated burglary and discharging a firearm. He is facing a further two charges – commission of a crime with a firearm, and arson – following a linked incident which occurred eight days later, in the early hours of December 13, 2017. 

It is alleged Whittaker shot the Waitara residence of a Highway 61 member and then set fire to the car he was alleged to have been driving at the time of the shooting. 

Pascoe said her client was not present at either crime.

The trial kicked off with co-offenders Caleb Whittaker and Sharif Moke also defending charges of aggravated burglary and discharging a firearm in relation to the earlier incident.

However, on Thursday they each entered guilty pleas to the firearm charge and the aggravated burglary charge was dismissed.

They were remanded into custody for sentencing on October 2.

Whittaker’s trial continues. 

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Source: Stuff