In a chilling reverberation of desperation, “Stay awake … please … just breathe, please” echoed through the life-or-death emergency call made by Daeus Taueki after his closest confidant, Raynor Cribb, was trapped and dragged under a speeding car for more than 80 meters.
“In extreme respiratory distress. Intense bleeding – not touching him, though,” said Daeus to the emergency operator.
Prior to the horrifying incident, Cribb was riding in Taueki’s vehicle when they engaged in a high-speed pursuit with another car on the fringe of Levin in the early hours of February 23, the year prior. Cribb tumbled from the vehicle, landing beneath the pursued Subaru. Taueki and another companion took off to find a carjack, coming back to their friend sprawled over 80m away, struggling to take each breath.
Under scrutiny is Adam Kapo Henare, the Subaru’s driver and a fugitive at the time of the incident. Allegedly, Henare deliberately drove away, dragging Cribb with him, resulting in Cribb’s death before he fled the scene entirely. Henare claims ignorance, arguing that he was oblivious to Cribb’s presence under his car and wouldn’t have proceeded if he’d known the truth.
Regardless of the diverging accounts, one tragic fact remains undisputed: Cribb was dragged to his death. The question at the heart of the trial in The High Court at Palmerston North revolves around whether Henare knew of Cribb’s perilous circumstance before deciding to drive off, which would make him culpable for reckless driving resulting in death.
The defence and prosecution unanimously agree that this tragedy unfolded post-midnight. At a quiet riverside reserve near Levin, two factions chanced upon each other, setting the story into motion – Henare and Alicia Ralston in a blue Subaru and Cribb, Taueki, and Angus Rauhihi in a grey Honda. Intoxicated, both groups decided, upon sensing escalating tensions, it was best to leave.
Allegedly seeing Henare rifling through their vehicle, the three men hurriedly jumped into their Honda, instigating a high-speed chase towards the west of Levin. Frenetic speeds nearing 160km/h abruptly ended as they swerved onto a 50km/h zone with a sharp right bend on Cambridge Street. Cribb, unbuckled and door ajar, was propelled out of the Honda during the sudden halt and ended up under Henare’s Subaru.
The accounts from Henare’s defence and the prosecutor start to diverge at this point.
Defence lawyer Philip Mitchell contends that Henare drove off after being threatened, only to stop when he heard unusual noises from his vehicle, realising Cribb was trapped under his car. Despite attempting to dislodge him, Cribb was left on the road. The prosecutor, Guy Carter, counters that following the initial collision everyone saw Cribb entrapped under the Subaru. In view of lifting the car, Taueki and Rauhihi set out to find a carjack but returned to find Cribb, gasping for breath and marked by severe trauma, dragged further down the road.
He hardly breathed a few minutes more on the spot where he was abandoned.
Forefronting the current trial in front of a jury of six men and six women, presided over by Justice Paul Radich, is Daeus Taueki’s statement that Henare was aware of Cribb under his car. The harrowing audio recording of the emergency call he made amplifies the raw pain and shock of the tragic incident. Taueki’s choked sobs can be heard as he discovers his dearest friend.
As family members tearfully listened in court, his love and desperation were encapsulated in the simple phrase “I love you man … please”. The court is to continue hearing the case, which is scheduled to run for another fortnight.