Two men found guilty of 1987 murder, robbery at Red Fox Tavern

Two men accused of the infamous Red Fox Tavern robbery and murder have been found guilty by a jury.

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A jury delivered the verdict after hours of deliberations. Source: 1 NEWS

Late on the Saturday night of Labour weekend in 1987, publican Chris Bush and three bar staff were having a few drinks in the tavern after the bar had been closed and the front door locked.

But two heavily disguised men - one armed with a double barreled shotgun, the other with a baseball bat, burst through the unlocked back door, shouting “this is an armed robbery”.

When Bush moved, the man with the gun shot him from only metres away, killing him.

He was 43, leaving behind his wife, Gaye, and two daughters.

The robbers - and now killers - proceeded to steal $36,000 in cash, coins and cheques, before tying up the terrified bar staff with yellow twine and fleeing into the night.

It was one of New Zealand’s most infamous cold cases, with multiple police investigations, hundreds of interviews, and multiple pleas for information.

But there were no arrests until 2017 - Mark Hoggart, and another man who has name suppression, were charged with aggravated robbery and murder.

A 12-person jury delivered their guilty verdicts to charges of aggravated robbery and murder just before 6pm after 18 hours of deliberating over three days.

Justice Mark Woolford allowed the jury on Monday to reach a “majority verdict”, where 11 out of 12 jurors could reach a verdict - but their verdict this evening was unanimous.

Chris Bush Source: 1 NEWS

The crown’s case was built on “circumstantial evidence”, with no direct evidence tying the men to the crime.

“The prime issue in this trial is identity - who was the shorter gunman, and who was the taller man with the bat”, said crown prosecutor Natalie Walker.

During the trial the crown showed evidence of their movements before and after the robbery - the jury also heard how the men appeared to come into large amounts of cash afterwards.

A car that looked like Hoggart’s had been seen nearby the night before, with two men inside.

“They were very deliberately casing out the pub under the cover of darkness,” said Walker.

However, the defence insisted the police had the wrong men.

“One hundred per cent that wasn’t them ... you know that from the evidence,” said defence lawyer Christopher Stevenson, representing the unnamed defendant.

Stevenson pointed the finger at another man, Lester Hamilton, a known robber who died in 2003.

Meanwhile Hoggart’s lawyer, Craig Tuck, also said while his client had turned up to court each day, evidence against him had not.

“He’s here with his resplendent and timeless mullet, he is what he is ... all he wants is what you would want ... just a fair go,” said Tuck.

“There is not enough evidence to find him guilty now.”

The jury, however, disagreed - both men have been remanded in custody until sentencing in May.