Guilty plea to manslaughter in 'drug deal gone wrong'

Naya Ropiu Fabian Wharekura. Photo: NZ Police
Naya Ropiu Fabian Wharekura. Photo: NZ Police
A man charged with murder and attempted murder admits he stabbed two men, but says he did not intend to kill them.

Naya Ropiu Fabian Wharekura, 28, is on trial in the High Court at Invercargill today after pleading not guilty to murdering Chad Terrance Parekura and attempting to murder Austin Jazz McGregor on April 23, 2022.

This morning he pleaded guilty to alternative charges of manslaughter and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The stabbing took place on Don St, near the Invercargill Courthouse in what Crown Prosecutor Mary-Jane Thomas said was a “drug deal gone wrong”.

She said the case was “very narrow” and the only issue was whether the defendant intended to kill the men when he assaulted them.

The Crown case is that on April 22, Wharekura and some associates wanted to buy MDMA.

They say an associate texted Mr McGregor who agreed to sell half a gram for $150.

They met him outside Tillermans Nightclub and got into the car where the defendant revealed he did not have enough money, but still took the drugs.

Mr McGregor went into the club where his friends - including Mr Parekura - were. 

He explained to them what had happened and that he had been ripped off, the Crown said.

Wharekura then went to an address on Crawford St and decided he would repay Mr McGregor the full amount.

At the house, he armed himself with a boning knife.

He then went back to Tillermans Nightclub with some associates, and Mr McGregor received a text to say they had arrived.

CCTV footage played for the jury today showed Mr Parekura running at the driver of the car and throwing a punch which missed.

Immediately following that, there was 13 seconds where the footage was frozen.

Wharekura lunged at Mr Parekura and stabbed him in his left side before turning around and attacking Mr McGregor in an almost identical way.

Mr Parekura fell to the ground and bled to death while Mr McGregor’s girlfriend used a shirt to apply pressure to his wound.

He was then rushed to Southland Hospital.

The Monday following the incident, police located Wharekura who said that night he had come home from work, had some drinks and went to sleep.

He claimed he knew nothing about the stabbing, and when he was shown the footage, he said the person in the video was not him.

Counsel John Westgate said his client accepted that he attacked the two men, but not with murderous intent.

“What we are talking about here is two single stabs. . . one to each person,” he said.

Ms Thomas said there were no text messages that the police would produce as evidence, although she said the drug deal was organised through messaging.

“I suspect because [there’s] drug dealing, nobody wanted to give the cops their phone,” she said.

Watching the CCTV footage during the Crown’s opening prompted an emotional response from a member of the public gallery who yelled a racial slur and was removed from the courtroom.

Justice Paul Radich is presiding over the trial, which is expected to take two weeks.