Matthew Hunt's killer guilty of attempting to murder Auckland policeman

The man who shot Constable Matthew Hunt dead last year has been found guilty of attempting to murder his partner, Constable David Goldfinch.

Eli Epiha. Source: 1 NEWS

The woman who aided his getaway, Natalie Bracken, has also been found guilty on her charge of being an accessory after the fact of wounding with intent.

Epiha, 25, and Bracken 31, have been on trial at the High Court in Auckland for two weeks.

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He had already admitted to the murder of Constable Matthew Hunt. Source: 1 NEWS

Epiha accepted murdering Constable Hunt earlier this month, but has argued it was a result of reckless discharge of a weapon and not intentional.

He denied trying to murder Constable Goldfinch, while Bracken denied being an accessory after the fact of wounding with intent.

Constable Matthew Hunt. Source: 1 NEWS

The 12-person jury returned to the court with several questions in its two days of deliberating. The outcome was announced in front of friends and family of the two police officers, as well as those supporting the accused.

The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict against Epiha, eventually finding him guilty in a majority 11-1 decision.

A member of the public called "love you Eli" to the killer, while Constable Hunt's mother squeezed the hands of people in the public gallery. 

The pair will be sentenced on October 1. Bracken will be remanded in custody. 

The incident on June 19 last year, began when Epiha crashed his car on Reynella Drive, while fleeing from police.

“I didn’t want to engage with police at all,” he said of his intentions that day.

As his car spun out of control, he hit and injured a member of the public, who was packing his car for a family trip to Rotorua. The man’s wife raced to his side, screaming.

Soon, Constable Goldfinch, with Constable Hunt at the wheel, arrived.

“I said to Matt, ‘Wow! He's crashed’, and because the smoke was so thick Matt had to slow pretty much to a crawl,” Goldfinch testified in court.

Constable David Goldfinch. Source: 1 NEWS

As he got out of the police car and approached Epiha’s damaged Toyota Verossa, he expected to find a driver in need of first aid.

Instead, he was confronted by Epiha, armed with a military style semi-automatic rifle.

“I put up my hands to show I didn't have a gun,” Goldfinch recounted, “and said ‘f*****g stop bro, put the f*****g gun down’ or words to that effect”.

Epiha, ignoring his plea, fired 14 shots in just 31 seconds.

Ten were at Constable Goldfinch, who was hit four times. The final four bullets killed Constable Hunt.

Constable Goldfinch told the court he was sure that he was going to die. “He just had the firearm, pointed straight at me.”

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A jury at the High Court in Auckland played audio of shots being fired by Eli Epiha as he murdered Constable Matthew Hunt. Source: 1 NEWS

“His head just kinda clicked and it was like he made a decision, it was like, ‘I'm gonna kill you’.”

As Constable Goldfinch made a mad dash for his life, he said he glanced back and “saw the flash of the gun”.

A bullet hit his hip, sending “an explosion of acid" through his belt.

Constable Goldfinch ran behind a property on Reynella Drive and jumped several fences, trying to get away.

At that point, he said, “I still didn’t know where Matt was. I hoped he’d got away”.

Constable Hunt had seen the shooter and radioed for help, before exiting the vehicle.

'This is where I die' - Policeman who survived West Auckland shooting details gunman firing

“Courageously, no doubt to see if he can assist his colleague," the Crown described it.

Epiha said he got a “big fright” seeing a second officer, shooting him four times.

The 25-year-old described how Constable Hunt fell “in a weird way”.

A pathologist told the court he couldn't have survived his injuries.

No way Constable Hunt could have survived gunshot injuries, court hears

A nearby CCTV camera captured clear audio of the incident, from start to finish.

Epiha had claimed he told the Constable Goldfinch to get back in his car and “f*** off”, multiple times, but that can’t be heard in the clip.

“I know [Epiha] says he said something,” Crown Prosecutor Brian Dickey. “That’s nonsense you would have heard it”.

“You only hear Constable Goldfinch, pleading for his life, across the bonnet of that car”.

Some of the yelling from the officer is hard to make out, but several words are distinct. “No! Stop it,” he can be heard yelling.

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Eli Epiha and Natalie Bracken are seen driving away as Constable Hunt’s body lies on the road. Source: 1 NEWS

One Massey resident, who’d been watching the incident from his bedroom window, filmed Epiha leaving the scene.

The footage shows the 25-year-old swinging his firearm over his shoulder and waiting calmly beside his getaway car.

“There’s no shame. There’s no awkwardness,” Dickey said. “Mr Epiha has achieved a purpose he set out to that day.”

Bracken didn’t testify in court, but her police interview was played for the jury.

Woman who drove Constable Hunt's killer from shooting says she was threatened

She was tearful during her recount of the incident, and adamant she had “no choice” but to help the gunman.

“He had the gun out and everything…” she said.

“I didn't want him to shoot at anyone, so I just, he was like ‘hurry the f*** up’, and I was like okay,”, she told the detective.

In her interview, she told police the car she drove him away in was unlocked and the key was inside.

"That appears to have been a lie", said Justice Geoffrey Venning this morning.

Footage of the pair's escape clearly shows Bracken with the key in her hand, unlocking the door.

The Crown had argued she hadn’t been threatened and was “just helping him”, only crying in her interview because of the predicament she found herself in.

They said she had multiple opportunities to assist police, after she’d left the gunman’s side, but didn’t.

The 31-year-old was originally charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder, but because Constable Hunt wasn't officially dead at the time of her actions, her charge was downgraded last week.