Meat cleaver used in gang turf brawl

Rival gang members took to the streets in central Hastings yesterday, armed with a hammer, meat cleaver and an axe during a brazen daylight brawl which landed seven men in jail.

Police received, "multiple calls," from concerned residents who reported at least 10 men fighting on the corner of Eastbourne St and Willowpark Rd, about 1.30pm, Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said.

Five police cars responded to the job, and officers apprehended three Mongrel Mob and four Black Power members or associates, between the ages of 15 and 24.

The brawlers were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons but no one received significant injuries.

Witnesses recounted watching in horror as the gang members appeared, "out of nowhere" and began beating one another.

"They jumped off their bikes and put these red bandannas over their faces, then they started going at each other. One man had a hatchet with a long handle," one witness said. "The [weapons] they had could have resulted in something very nasty if the police had not arrived so quickly."

It had not yet been determined what caused the fight but Hawke's Bay Today understands it may have stemmed from a separate incident earlier in the day, in which a man was taken away by police.

Another source spoke of an altercation between two men in the same area that morning.

"At first I thought it was a man yelling at his wife over the fence, but it was these two men. They were yelling for a while, then they appeared to make up and gave each other a hug.

"One guy appeared to be quite out of it, he was climbing a pole and swinging from it, he was throwing things out onto the street. Then the police arrived and picked him up."

Meanwhile police in Napier were yesterday having difficulty establishing the details of three early morning incidents involving stab wounds.

One, at an address in Spriggs Cr, Onekawa, resulted in a man being admitted to hospital with an eye injury which required surgery, although the eye was expected to be saved.

A 25-year-old man was charged with wounding with intent and was to appear in court today, but police said they were not getting a lot of help from possible witnesses and were seeking more information.

The victim was understood to be from a neighbouring address.

A man who required medical treatment after another incident declined to make a complaint to police who, by late yesterday, had still not found a person said to have been injured in another incident. They had not received a complaint.

- By Amy Shanks of Hawke's Bay Today

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