Gang member blackmailer to be paroled

Muru Muru Taana-Andrews (34) was described as a ‘‘polite and compliant’’ prisoner. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
Muru Muru Taana-Andrews (34) was described as a ‘‘polite and compliant’’ prisoner. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
A Dunedin gang member who blackmailed a man out of $250,000 has been paroled with 14 months of his prison term outstanding.

Muru Muru Taana-Andrews (34) will be released from prison next week and would be given assistance to leave the Mongrel Mob, a parole report confirmed.

Taana-Andrews was jailed for four years and one month when he was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court in September 2019.

The man first confronted his victim — a retail worker, whose identity is suppressed — late in 2016, claiming he had a "compromising photograph" of the man with a young girl, taken from CCTV footage.

Taana-Andrews said $7000 would "make it go away" and he would stop senior Mongrel Mob members finding out.

For several months, the petrified victim would make weekly $100 payments but the demands increased for tobacco and other items.

Taana-Andrews would also request lump sums, under the guise of "interest".

To keep up with the almost constant demands, the victim even stole from his employer.

It was February 2018 when he finally told Taana-Andrews he wanted out of their arrangement.

But when they met in a car park, the gang member went on the offensive, telling him to sign over ownership of his car or he would "end up in a dumpster".

At one stage the victim applied for a personal loan to pay off his blackmailer but was declined, the court heard at sentencing.

The extortion was only uncovered in July 2018 — more than 18 months after it started — when police launched an investigation targeting the gang.

Parole Board panel convener Mary More noted Taana-Andrews had a criminal record stretching back to his late teens, which included violence, theft, non-compliance with community-based sentences and cannabis and methamphetamine convictions.

However, his current stint behind bars was the longest he had faced.

Taana-Andrews was a minimum-security prisoner at the Otago Corrections Facility and was described as "polite and compliant".

Ms More noted an "issue" that arose in March but its details were redacted.

It was later referred to as "offence-mirroring behaviour" but the board did not consider it serious enough to change the outcome of the hearing.

Taana-Andrews would see the Parole Board again in September to review his progress on the outside.

His conditions of release included:

  • To live at a Dunedin address approved by Probation.
  • To complete any treatment as directed by Probation.
  • Not to possess alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
  • Not to contact the victim.

 

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