A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of Auckland police constable Matthew Hunt in June last year, during a routine traffic stop in Massey.
Meanwhile, a second officer who was shot in the leg and seriously injured can today be named as David Goldfinch.
RNZ can reveal 25-year-old Eli Epiha pleaded guilty to Hunt’s murder and dangerous driving last Wednesday.
A court order meant the plea could not be reported until now.
Epiha denies the attempted murder of Goldfinch and he is on a trial before a jury of seven men and five women in the High Court in Auckland.
Justice Venning told the jury that they must not assume because he was guilty of murdering Hunt, that he was automatically guilty on the attempted murder
“The crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Epiha deliberately shot Constable Goldfinch and at the time he shot him, he intended to kill him,” he said.
Natalie Bracken, 31, is also on trial, charged with being an accessory to murder by allegedly driving the getaway car.
Crown prosecutor Alysha McClintock says she watched what had happened from nearby before getting the keys to her Mazda.
The trial began today and it is set down for three weeks.
‘There is no higher price’ – outpouring of grief following Hunt’s death
Matthew Hunt, a Waitematā police officer, was 28 years old when he was fatally shot.
His death prompted an outpouring of grief from the public and police around the country.
A private funeral for whānau, friends and colleagues was held at Eden Park in Auckland about three weeks after the shooting.
The family agreed to have the ceremony livestreamed after overwhelming support from the nation.
Police officers performed a haka at his funeral and a number of other tributes were paid, including the Massey community creating a flower wall at the Henderson Police Station.
One week on from the shooting, police around the country 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 throughout the day.
“A week on from an event none of us ever want or should experience, police is pausing to remember the ultimate sacrifice of one of our own,” Coster said.
At the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua, staff and recruits held a wreath laying and in Wellington, Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha led a small group of officers by the flagpole outside the National Headquarters.
At the time of his death, Hunt had recently moved to the Waitematā Road Policing Team, after two years as a frontline officer at Ōrewa and Helensville Stations.
Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan was emotional speaking to media after Hunt’s death.
She fought back the tears as she said Hunt was highly respected by his peers.
“Matt is an outstanding police officer, he passionately expressed his desire to serve his community,” she said.
“He was killed serving his country, there is no higher price.
“We’re absolutely devastated by the loss of our colleague and our brother Matt. Matt’s death is the ultimate sacrifice of a police officer working to keep our country safe.
Mother’s petition for harsher punishment for those who murder police
Following his death, Hunt’s mother began calling on the government to enforce harsher punishments for those who murder members of the police.
In December 2020, Diane Hunt presented a petition that gathered almost 40,000 signatures to Parliament, asking for law changes so anyone convicted of murdering an officer gets a mandatory life sentence without parole.
She implored politicians to make changes so her son did not die in vain.
“The reason for my petition is simple, Matthew’s death is a sobering reminder of the daily sacrifice our police officers make to ensure we can continue to live our lives in the manner in which we are accustomed.”
Police Minister Poto Williams did not commit to enacting the changes but said the government was working to reduce gun crime.