Sao Yean murder trial: ‘It was all Anton’ – defendant turns on co-accused as trial heats up

Neha Wiremu Grey, 40, took to the stand and was drilled by co-accused Anton Rite’s counsel, Adam Holland, on Wednesday afternoon. Photo / Belinda Feek.

A defendant in a murder trial that saw a man left for dead in a farm water trough blamed one of his co-accused for the fatal beating and told a jury he was forced to help dispose of the body.

Neha Wiremu Grey, 40, was today the first to opt to give evidence in the trial over the alleged murder of Hamilton man Sao Yean, also known as Sao Young, on March 13, 2020.

Grey, together with Daniel James Payne, Mihingarangi Tynneal Rameka and Anton Rite are all defending a murder charge over Yean’s death.

Grey, Payne, and Rameka also face additional kidnapping and wounding charges for two other complainants.


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Grey took to the stand today and in questioning from his counsel, Jessica Tarrant, said he was in shock as he watched Rite mete out a beating with a weapon at a rural Gordonton property early that morning.

He claims he was then threatened to keep his mouth shut by Rite, who he said was a known “gangster”.

Grey explained how he was at home asleep when Payne texted him at about 3.20am and told him that somebody was “scoping” out Rameka’s Byron Rd house.

At the time Rameka was dealing drugs and feared for her safety, he said.


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Grey said he was happy to help keep an eye on her house as it meant he could get some free drugs, or a “sesh” out of it.

He and Payne arrived at about 4.30am to find Rite in the driveway, so he stopped to talk to him.

When asked by Tarrant what he thought of Rite, Grey said he was “scared of him” because he’d threatened him in the past.

Rite mentioned he was going to Huntly at some point so he asked for a ride to his parents, who live there.

Rite agreed and Grey said that’s when he heard Payne say, “What the f*** is this”.

Payne walked towards him down the driveway and tells him, “Bro, I’m off, you coming?”.

He left and Grey said he walked up to Rite who was standing outside the garage, asking if he could still catch a ride to Huntly, and noticed “another man” walk out of the garage.

Rite and the mystery man left for about half an hour, before Rite returned and asked if he still wanted a ride to Huntly.

They headed off and Grey said Rite appeared a “bit on edge” before saying “he had to make a stop somewhere”.

“We parked up in the countryside and reversed into a driveway and it looked like a farmhouse,” Grey said.


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“He stops the car and I ask him who lives here and he says ‘Don’t worry about it bro, just stay in the car’.”

Sao Yean, aka Sao Young, murder accused, from left Mihingarangi Tynneal Rameka, Anton Rite, Daniel Payne and Neha Grey in the High Court at Hamilton. Photos / Belinda Feek
Sao Yean, aka Sao Young, murder accused, from left Mihingarangi Tynneal Rameka, Anton Rite, Daniel Payne and Neha Grey in the High Court at Hamilton. Photos / Belinda Feek

Rite got out of the car and heard a bang and “someone scream”.

“I got out to have a look and see who it was and that’s when I see Anton beating somebody with a weapon, over and over … that’s when I yelled out ‘What are you doing?’

“He turns to me and says ‘I told you to stay in the f****** car, bro’ and tells me ‘I will f****** kill you and kill your f****** family.”

Grey said he was shocked.

“I didn’t know what was going on … then he grabs on me telling me to help him move the person.”


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He said he was then forced to grab Yean’s feet and help dump him in the water trough.

Asked by Tarrant why he helped move the body, Grey said because Rite “made me do it”.

“He threatened me … was swinging his weapon at me.”

The threats continued once they got back in the car, he said, with Rite repeatedly telling him to “keep your mouth shut or you will know what will happen, I will kill you”.

“I told him, ‘Bro, I will give you my word, I will not say anything’.”

Asked about the crown’s theory Yean was killed as retribution for Christopher Matatahi’s death on New Year’s Eve, Grey replied “I think that’s all nonsense”.


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He agreed with Tarrant that he should only be guilty of helping dispose of Yean’s body; a charge that he hadn’t been charged with.

However, tensions rose as Rite’s counsel Adam Holland got the chance to question Grey, and reiterate the crown’s case that he, Rameka, and Payne wanted retribution for Matatahi dying of an overdose.

“[Mr Rite] essentially kills this person with you as a witness? Was he alive when you [put him in the trough]?” Holland asked him.

“He was unconscious,” Grey replied.

“So you were happy to put an unconscious man face down in a trough?” Holland replied.

“No, I was scared,” adding Rite had assaulted Yean for about 5 or 10 minutes.


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Holland eventually put to Grey that his testimony was “an outright, outrageous lie”.

“No, it’s not,” Grey replied.

“Why would I make something up? He knows what he’s done. He needs to own up to what he’s done.”

He put to him that Payne will testify that Grey was his righthand man and that he would help him get a Black Power gang patch.

“That’s absurd. No way … we were friends.”

He denied turning up to Rameka’s house with a mask on and carrying weapons, including a firearm or taser.


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Holland also put to him that he and Payne had discussed their evidence while being held in a cell together during the trial.

“No, no way,” Grey replied.

The trial continues.

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