After escaping from the scene where Constable Matthew Hunt was fatally gunned down, Eli Epiha made an admission under his breath - “I f****d up”.
That’s according to a friend of the 25-year-old, who drove him later that day, giving evidence in court this morning.
It was Shane Conza’s home in Taupaki, north-west Auckland, that Epiha fled to after the shooting on June 19 last year.
He also helped Epiha by ditching the military style semi-automatic rifle he’d used on the side of the road.
The court heard that the pair have known each other for around six years.
Conza said the first time he saw his friend that day was when he came down his driveway just before midday.
Epiha was with a woman Conza hadn’t met, Natalie Bracken, and in a car he didn’t recognise.
“He came towards me, wanted me to drive him somewhere,” the jury heard.
He said that wasn’t an unusual request, and he didn’t ask any questions.
Asked about Epiha’s demeanour that morning, Conza said, “He’s always pretty calm.”
But admitted he was “a little more urgent than usual… just a little bit”.
The friend said he wasn’t aware there’d been a shooting.
Conza said Bracken was at the property for a matter of minutes, “it seemed like she didn’t wanna be there and I didn’t want her to be there”.
She left in the silver Mazda that she'd arrived in.
Before leaving the property himself, Conza took some belongings that Epiha had arrived with, including a gun, and put them into his own car, claiming he thought it was “a whole bunch of clothes and stuff”.
Conza said he thought he'd be taking his friend “to Massey, cause that’s where we’re sort of from, and so I turned left, and he said 'nah, nah'.”
The pair soon stopped on a gravel rural road, and Conza got out.
“I needed to take something out of the boot, which I did… placed it out of the boot on the side of the road.”
“Did you know what that was at that time?” Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey asked.
“Yeah, absolutely I did,” Conza replied.
He said it was a “Kalashnikov AK47” gun, but that he had no idea where it came from.
Conza described how he put it in some shrubbery on the side of the road and covered it in pine needles.
He also admitted to the court hearing Epiha make a startling but quiet admission.
“I just recall him saying that he'd f****d up, along the way, it was just under his breath, not direct.”
“Maybe foolishly, I didn’t ask,” he said, “I guess I was scared to ask”.
As the pair headed towards Wellsford in Auckland’s north, they were stopped by a marked police car.
The court heard that Epiha told his friend “to be cool” as they were pulled over.
“I'm not going to say my name, don't act weird about it.”
Today the court also heard from the officers who pulled the pair over, who recalled, “He said his name was Trevor Thompson”.
Constable Eli Antunovich told the court, “I asked him for his details… he provided false details”.
With a t-shirt in the boot matching the description of what the gunman was wearing, the officers asked for a further description over police radio.
“My view was it was very, very strong resemblance, only difference I saw was a different t-shirt and different jacket,” Antunovich said.
Conza said they were detained on the roadside, as people of interest in relation to the shooting.
He later told the officers about how he left a gun on the side of the road, leading them to it.
The court was shown pictures of where it was found.
Epiha’s already admitted murdering Matthew Hunt, and dangerous driving causing injury to a member of the public in Massey, West Auckland.
He’s on trial for attempting to kill Constable David Goldfinch, Hunt’s police partner that day.
A 12-person jury must also decide if 31-year-old Natalie Bracken is guilty of being an accessory after the fact of murder, allegedly helping Epiha avoid arrest.