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Red Fox Tavern: Jury learn one of the accused committed a prior aggravated robbery


Crime

One of the men accused of the infamous fatal 1987 Red Fox Tavern robbery has previously been convicted of an aggravated robbery in Auckland.

Mark Joseph Hoggart, 60, and a man with name suppression are both charged with the aggravated robbery and murder of its publican, Christopher Bush in Waikato.

It is alleged cheques and cash to the value of just over $36,000 were stolen in the armed hold-up at the Maramarua tavern.

Both accused men deny the charges.

Mark Joseph Hoggart pictured at the first day of his trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Mark Joseph Hoggart pictured at the first day of his trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

Today, the jury learned the man with name suppression has previously been jailed for an aggravated robbery in Auckland in the early 1980s.

One his associates in the crime – Charles Emile Augustus Ross – has been giving evidence in court.

Before he took the stand however, the jury heard an account of their robbery be read into the record.

The man with name suppression had obtained two 12-gauge double-barrelled shotguns and sawed both down with a hacksaw.

The trio planned on waiting until 1am, when a staff member was due to open a vault to place inside the takings.

The group watched the guests empty from the establishment, leaving behind socialising employees.

Christoher Bush, the owner of the Maramarua Red Fox Tavern, was shot dead in October 1987. Photo / Supplied
Christoher Bush, the owner of the Maramarua Red Fox Tavern, was shot dead in October 1987. Photo / Supplied

The accused was wearing steal capped boots, black corduroy trousers and three jerseys under a tracksuit top.

The day prior he had cut the sleeves of an old purple jersey, fashioning them into two balaclavas.

One for him, the other for Ross.

Once disguised and armed, they confronted a barman as he came out through a locked door.

Ross hit the barman on the side of his face with the barrel of his shotgun.

With a shotgun to his back, the barman was forced back inside.

A receptionist and the barman were then forced to lie on the ground, the latter “forcefully” kicked by one of the two offenders.

Both the barman and receptionist were then marched at gunpoint to an upstairs bar where six or seven employees were playing pool.

The Red Fox Tavern is on State Highway 2 about an hour's drive south of Auckland. Photo / File
The Red Fox Tavern is on State Highway 2 about an hour’s drive south of Auckland. Photo / File

All were marched single file back down.

The accused demanded the duty manager open the safe – the combination to which he forgot in fear.

Ross struck him over the head with the butt of the shotgun, the impact causing it to fire.

A single shot soared into the ceiling, shattering a fluorescent light bulb over the employees.

The trial began on February 9, 2021, in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / File
The trial began on February 9, 2021, in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / File

When the vault was finally opened, the contents were $45,432.22 ($31,566.60 in cash).

Another associate who was waiting outside drove the pair away from the crime scene.

The accused threw some of the items off a bridge. The balaclavas were burned.

Ross used his share to purchase a Triumph Trident motorcycle for $5000.

All were soon arrested and admitted their roles.

The lengthy trial before jury and Justice Mark Woolford, continues in the High Court at Auckland this afternoon.

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