Man found not guilty of gang stabbing

Invercargill High and District Court. Photo: Luisa Girao
Invercargill High and District Court. Photo: Luisa Girao
An alleged Mongrel Mob prospect has been found not guilty on charges in relation to the stabbing of a rival gang member in Invercargill two years ago.

A jury made up of six men and six woman presented their verdict at Invercargill High Court this afternoon following the week and a half long trial.

Shannon Withers (18) was found not guilty on three charges - attempted murder and aggravated robbery, and an alternative charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Withers, who was 16 and living at a Mataura Mongrel Mob pad at the time, was accused of stabbing John Phillip O’Brien, a member of Mangu Kaha, a Black Power splinter group, about 5.15pm on February 16, 2018.

The incident, which occurred at the corner of Ythan and Janet Sts in Invercargill, left Mr O’Brien with lacerations to his liver, kidney and abdominal wall.

Defence counsel Hugo Young told the jury in closing yesterday Withers was "100%" telling the truth when he told police it was an issue of "mistaken identity".

He said there was no forensic, CCTV footage or GPS evidence to suggest Withers was linked to the crime.

Mr Young said there were many factors which would have impaired the witness’s visibility when it came to noticing critical details and identifying the attacker.

Crown prosecutor Sarah McKenzie and based on witness statements, the jury should be satisfied ‘beyond reasonable doubt" it was Withers who stabbed the victim.

She said Withers pointed a firearm at the victim and "clicked twice" but when the firearm did not go off, he got out of the car and stabbed Mr O’Brien in the back five times.

"These were intentionally life-threatening stab wounds," Ms McKenzie said.

The charge of aggravated robbery was in relation to the victim’s shirt and phone being taken as a type of "trophy".

Withers was there to prove his loyalty to the Mongrel Mob, she said.

"That’s the exact commitment needed to earn a patch.


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