Deadly taking pictures of Matthew Hunt: Man pleads responsible to homicide of police constable

Eli Epiha on trial at the Auckland High Court.

2021-07-12 11:26:48

A person has pleaded responsible to the homicide of Auckland police constable Matthew Hunt in June final 12 months, throughout a routine site visitors cease in Massey.

Eli Epiha on trial at the Auckland High Court.

Eli Epiha on trial on the Auckland Excessive Court docket.
Photograph: RNZ / Nick Monro

In the meantime, a second officer who was shot within the leg and critically injured can at the moment be named as David Goldfinch.

RNZ can reveal 25-year-old Eli Epiha pleaded responsible to Hunt’s homicide and harmful driving final Wednesday.

A court docket order meant the plea couldn’t be reported till now.

Epiha denies the tried homicide of Goldfinch and he’s on a trial earlier than a jury of seven males and 5 ladies within the Excessive Court docket in Auckland.

Justice Venning informed the jury that they need to not assume as a result of he was responsible of murdering Hunt, that he was routinely responsible on the tried homicide

“The crown should show past affordable doubt that Mr Epiha intentionally shot Constable Goldfinch and on the time he shot him, he meant to kill him,” he stated.

The Excessive Court docket heard that fourteen bullets had been fired, mid morning, on a Massey avenue in June final 12 months.

Constable Matthew Hunt and his colleague David Goldfinch had been out in a patrol automotive, they usually had signalled a purple Toyota Verossa with an alert out on it to cease.

Crown laywer Alysha McClintock stated as an alternative of pulling over driver Eli Epiha sped down Reynella Drive, misplaced management, hit a parked Toyota Prius, after which climbed out holding a semi-automatic weapon.

Constable Goldfinch stepped out of the passenger door of his automotive into gunfire.

McClintock stated the officer was shot at 10 instances as he fled to a close-by Suzuki for shelter, yelling at Epiha to cease.

“The bullets pursued him whilst he ran for what he believed was his life. Regardless of his makes an attempt to take shelter and to run Constable Goldfinch was hit 4 instances with a bullet hanging his hip, two going by way of his leg and one hitting his boot,” she stated.

McClintock informed jurors officer Hunt was not as fortunate, as she confirmed drone photographs of the crash scene after which pictures and a video of Hunt mendacity on the bottom.

She stated he was shot at 4 instances as he received out of the police automotive, leaned over to the bottom and didn’t get again up.

Slain police officer Matthew Hunt.

Matthew Hunt.
Photograph: NZ Police / Fb

Hunt was hit within the again, she stated, with out “an opportunity” of survival.

Epiha didn’t dispute the actual fact he murdered Hunt, and likewise admitted that he shot and wounded Goldfinch.

However his lawyer Mark Edgar informed the jury the pictures fired at Goldfinch weren’t meant to be deadly.

He additionally famous that Epiha had taken full duty for Hunts loss of life and his reckless driving.

“It is a very black and white case, says the crown, the variety of pictures, the dispassionate method they are saying he turned away. All of these issues, they are saying, you may infer what’s in his thoughts,” he stated.

“I merely ask you to pause at this stage as a result of the chance to have executed that man would have occurred on the very starting.”

McClintock argued Epiha shaped an intention to kill the officers within the police automotive, then acted with “a degree of persistence and willpower”.

“The intent held by Mr Epiha whereas committing the very same acts will need to have been the identical. It’s inconceivable that Mr Epiha held completely different intents in relation to every officer,” she stated.

Two witnesses – a number of the first backup cops to reach on the scene – described shouting and chaos, as they found the casualties on Reynella Drive.

Constable Ilye Kokine discovered Hunt unresponsive and gave him CPR.

He informed the court docket there was no signal of the particular person – or individuals – accountable.

“Issues are flying in my head, all these concepts. Mainly, I’ve to decide. At this stage I don’t know who the offender is. There is a police officer mendacity there, there’s one other particular person bleeding, I am unsure what his standing is,” he stated.

Natalie Bracken, 31, can also be on trial, charged with being an adjunct to homicide by allegedly driving a getaway automotive.

McClintock stated Bracken was in a home close by – and was amongst many neighbours who got here exterior after listening to the crash and the gunfire.

The jury was proven of a video of a girl, allegedly Bracken, sporting a bra, denims and naked ft, hopping behind the wheel of a silver Mazda.

Mendacity metres away, immobile, on the highway is a person who is alleged to be Hunt.

One other man – allegedly Epiha – additionally will get within the automotive holding a gun, they usually drive off.

McClintock stated Bracken informed police she had no alternative, and drove Epiha away as a result of she was fearful of him.

However she informed the jury Bracken’s actions allowed Epiha to evade arrest.

“What Ms Bracken did is she then helped Mr Epiha get away from the scene of the shootings,” she stated.

The trial is about down for 3 weeks.

Natalie Bracken on trial in the Auckland High Court.

Natalie Bracken on trial within the Excessive Court docket at Auckland.
Photograph: RNZ / Nick Monro

‘There isn’t a increased worth’ – outpouring of grief following Hunt’s loss of life

Matthew Hunt, a Waitematā police officer, was 28 years previous when he was fatally shot.

His loss of life prompted an outpouring of grief from the general public and police across the nation.

A non-public funeral for whānau, mates and colleagues was held at Eden Park in Auckland about three weeks after the taking pictures.

The household agreed to have the ceremony livestreamed after overwhelming help from the nation.

Law enforcement officials carried out a haka at his funeral and quite a lot of different tributes had been paid, together with the Massey group making a flower wall on the Henderson Police Station.

One week on from the taking pictures, police across the nation held a one minute’s silence in honour of their slain colleague.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster ordered all police flags to be flown at half-mast all through the day.

“Per week on from an occasion none of us ever need or ought to expertise, police is pausing to recollect the last word sacrifice of one in every of our personal,” Coster stated.

On the Royal New Zealand Police School in Porirua, employees and recruits held a wreath laying and in Wellington, Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha led a small group of officers by the flagpole exterior the Nationwide Headquarters.

On the time of his loss of life, Hunt had not too long ago moved to the Waitematā Street Policing Staff, after two years as a frontline officer at Ōrewa and Helensville Stations.

Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan was emotional talking to media after Hunt’s loss of life.

She fought again the tears as she stated Hunt was extremely revered by his friends.

“Matt is an impressive police officer, he passionately expressed his want to serve his group,” she stated.

“He was killed serving his nation, there isn’t any increased worth.

“We’re completely devastated by the lack of our colleague and our brother Matt. Matt’s loss of life is the last word sacrifice of a police officer working to maintain our nation secure.

Mom’s petition for harsher punishment for many who homicide police

Following his loss of life, Hunt’s mom started calling on the federal government to implement harsher punishments for many who homicide members of the police.

In December 2020, Diane Hunt offered a petition that gathered nearly 40,000 signatures to Parliament, asking for legislation modifications so anybody convicted of murdering an officer will get a compulsory life sentence with out parole.

She implored politicians to make modifications so her son didn’t die in useless.

“The explanation for my petition is easy, Matthew’s loss of life is a sobering reminder of the every day sacrifice our cops make to make sure we will proceed to stay our lives within the method through which we’re accustomed.”

Police Minister Poto Williams didn’t decide to enacting the modifications however stated the federal government was working to scale back gun crime.

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