Every now and then police officers have a laugh at offender’s expense. One such occasion was during the Ambury Park gang rape investigation while I was a young detective based at Otahuhu. This crime made national headlines after the city Council granted the Mongrel Mob (MM) a license to hold a convention at the Park soon after denying the Scouts such a license.
Patched MM members from around the country converged on Ambury Park for a weekend. Another local gang wanted to attend the convention one night. To ensure their admission they abducted an 18 year old woman walking in a nearby street and took her with them to hand over to the MM. After surviving an all-night ordeal which included being urinated on and having petrol pored over her she contacted police who promptly dispatched a large team to the Park only to find everyone had left.
Police south of Auckland set up check points to intercept MM vehicles returning home. MM members were ‘turned over’ and photographed, including photos of their patches. Their vehicles were searched for cameras. Films from those cameras provided evidence that eventually convicted nine of the eleven charged. Leather gang patches are like fingerprints. They all have fold lines across them that make each unique. Photographs taken during the rapes showed various offender’s patches which were later forensically compared and matched with actual patches on jackets seized at arrest.
Michael Te Whaiti was one of the first to be arrested and held in custody. He escaped from Mt Eden Prison. I was tasked with another detective to locate him and his brother Eddie who had been identified but not yet arrested. They came from Pirinoa in South Wairarapa. Masterton CIB provided us intelligence and manpower support.
We timed our raid on the Te Whaiti family home just before daybreak. Our plan was to surround the house under the cover of darkness. The house and out buildings were located down a long driveway. Unfortunately the gate was pad locked. They saw us coming. Michael and Eddie legged it out the back for the bush clad hills with me and my partner in hot pursuit. At the same time we were being chased by a couple of wild horses. I didn’t relish the thought of spending the rest of the day searching the bush for them, even if we survived a possible attack from the horses.
After some quick thinking I yelled out to them; “Stop NOW - or we’ll set the dogs onto you”. With that they promptly stopped and raised their hands. My colleague and I handcuffed and walked them back to the vehicles. As we approached the convoy Eddie asked me; “Hey Boss, where’s the dog van?” I replied; “In Upper Hutt”. The look on their faces was priceless.
After a long day and while enjoying a beer we had a few laughs at their expense.
Edward and Michael were found guilty along with their brother Ben and six others. Michael was sentenced to 7 years six months and the other two to 7 years imprisonment. Edward and Ben had their sentences increased to 10 years after the Crown appealed. Had minimum parole periods applied at the time they would have served significantly longer sentences.