Gang member who attended Mob-led drug rehab course bashed bystander in meth-fueled attack

Michael Skipper, a member of the Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob, was jailed on Friday.  (File photo)

Lawrence Smith/Stuff

Michael Skipper, a member of the Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob, was jailed on Friday. (File photo)

A gang member who attended the controversial Mongrel Mob-led Kahukura meth rehab program has been jailed for a violent and “chilling” meth-fueled attack on an RSE worker.

Michael Skipper, 32, a member of the Mongrel Mob’s Notorious chapter, appeared in Hastings District Court on Friday after pleading guilty to a charge of injuring with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

On the morning of March 22 Skipper was in the Raureka Dairy in Hastings when three RSE workers entered the store. Skipper followed the men, taunting them about wearing face masks, then asked one of the men for a fight.

Posturing aggressively before the men, Skipper punched the man in the face. The three men tried to run from the store. Two of the men were able to escape, but Skipper prevented the man he had punched from leaving. He trapped him in an aisle of the dairy and began a prolonged assault.

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The Raureka superette, Hastings, in which the assault occurred.

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The Raureka superette, Hastings, in which the assault occurred.

When the victim fell to the ground, Skipper kicked him forcefully and repeatedly in the head and body, as the shopkeeper yelled at him to stop.

While the victim was on the ground and defenseless, Skipper jumped with two feet in the air and forcefully landed both feet on the victim’s face. He did that again, before leaving the victim writhing in pain.

The victim, a 29-year-old man from Vanuatu, suffered a fractured eye socket, bruising to his right lung, and bruises and swelling to his face and ribs.

The entire incident had been captured on the dairy’s CCTV system.

Skipper’s lawyer Cliff Church said Skipper had been “de-patched” by the Mongrel Mob on the morning of the assault and had been very upset on top of being very affected by methamphetamine.

Judge Russell Collins said footage of the incident was “chilling” and showed Skipper “using every ounce of force you could muster to administer those kicks”.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said the assault was very serious, and it was clear from the CCTV footage that “through good fortune and not good management that he [Skipper] is not sitting in another court”.

“It’s only luck that what was intended didn’t happen,” he said.

Manning noted that the rehab program attended by Skipper had clearly been “wholly unsuccessful”, and that his pre-sentence report said there had been a consistent pattern of Skipper expressing a willingness to attend programs, then failing to follow through.

GLENN TAYLOR/STUFF

The Kahukura drug rehab program has had success in helping Mongrel Mob members get clean, and reconnect with their families.

Collins said Skipper was lucky that the victim had not been more injured “given the ferocity of the attack”, and noted the severe impact the incident had on the victim, as outlined in his victim impact statement.

The judge noted Skipper’s substantial previous criminal offending and prison sentences. He also acknowledged that Skipper had been in a methamphetamine-induced psychotic state at the time.

Collins said he had no report on Skipper from the Kahukura program, as he would expect from other rehab programs like those at Odyssey House, and it was unclear when Skipper attended the course.

The Kahukura program is a 10-week course for up to 10 participants, their partners and whānau, with up to 30 on each intake on a Hawke’s Bay marae. It began in 2021 and is funded from the Proceeds of Crime fund.

The Mongrel Mob-led drug rehabilitation program Kahukura has faced public scrutiny after receiving $2.75 million of government funding over three years.  (File photo)

GLENN TAYLOR/Stuff

The Mongrel Mob-led drug rehabilitation program Kahukura has faced public scrutiny after receiving $2.75 million of government funding over three years. (File photo)

Skipper also pleaded guilty to assaulting his daughter the day before the assault.

Collins gave him a discount for his guilty plea but said there were no mitigating factors.

He noted Skipper had been brought up in a loving, supportive household with no gang influences, was connected with his culture, and he had excelled at school and in sports.

Collins did not accept that Skipper’s remorse was genuine and sentenced Skipper to three years and nine months in prison.

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