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Not guilty plea to murder

A man accused of murdering Michael Huata, at Mohaka, in June this year, and another man charged in relation to the incident, made separate appearances via AV link in the Gisborne courthouse this morning.

Mr Huata, 29, was allegedly shot at close range by someone wielding a double-barrelled shotgun at a residential property on the night of June 18. He died in Wairoa Hospital a short time later.

Ben Wairama Arundel Lambert, 21, has been accused of the murder, for which he was arraigned and pleaded not guilty during an appearance before High Court Justice Robert Dobson, who was also linked to Gisborne by the audio-visual system. In addition to the murder charge, Lambert also pleaded not guilty to associated charges of common assault, intentional damage, carrying a restricted weapon, and theft (over $1000) – a vehicle, valued at $3000.

An associate of Lambert's Paris Fraser-Lee Hajnal-Huata, 29, made an appearance soon afterward in the District Court jurisdiction for sentence on charges arising from an incident said to have occurred in the lead-up to the murder, beginning June 16.

Hajnal-Huata pleaded guilty to charges of presenting an object that looked like a firearm at a complainant Hirini Rocky Taurima and using threatening language towards Taurima.

Judge Warren Cathcart imposed a sentence of 84 days imprisonment — the equivalent of time-served for Hajnal-Huata, who has been on remand in custody. He was to be immediately released.

Taurima, 38, also faces charges in relation to alleged incidents ahead of the murder and to which he is yet to plead - assault with intent to injure (Mr Lambert), discharging a double-barrelled pistol shotgun with reckless disregard for the safety of others, and unlawful possession of a pistol — a double-barrelled shotgun.

He will appear in the Wairoa District Court on November 6.