More than a year after Constable Matthew Hunt was shot dead, his mum says it’s been “harrowing” having to hear “every possible detail” of what had happened that day in court.
Eli Epiha, who killed Hunt in Massey, Auckland, on June 19, 2020, was this afternoon found guilty of attempting to murder Constable David Goldfinch, Hunt’s police partner.
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 and Bracken have been on trial at the High Court in Auckland for two weeks.
Reading a statement outside the court, Diane Hunt said “it’s taken a long time to get here”.
Surrounded by family and friends, she said: “The past two plus weeks have been harrowing for all of us - listening to what happened to Matthew and Dave in such raw detail… can’t be described in words.
“The loss of Matt has been made all the more traumatic by having to hear every possible detail that happened that day.
“Our thoughts are with Dave and his family and we would like to acknowledge his incredible courage.”
Hunt said her thoughts were also with the member of the public who was injured in the incident.
She also thanked the public’s kindness and “unbelievable support” after her son’s death.
“I want to thank all of Matthew’s friends and their families for all their enormous support of us.”
This Friday was meant to be Matthew’s 30th birthday, she added.
“We miss him terribly. We hope that no other police family will ever have to go through this.”
Crown Prosecutor Brian Dickey said he was “pleased for the family and pleased for the constables” following the guilty verdicts.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said Hunt’s family, particularly his mum Diane and sister Ellia, showed “immense strength” during the trial.
“The guilty verdict for the attempted murder of Constable Dave Goldfinch is a relief for him and his family – their journey to recover from what has happened continues and we will support them through this,” Coster said.
“Dave has shown incredible strength throughout this process and we saw this when he gave his evidence recounting what happened to him and Matt on that tragic day.
“I also want to acknowledge the investigation team and the Crown Prosecutors whose dedication and professionalism led to the earlier guilty plea and the outcome today.”
Coster said the trial was a “brutal reminder” of the risks police officers faced daily.
Police Association president Chris Cahill said he wanted the judge “to deliver a sentence which reflects the condemnation New Zealanders expect”.
"This verdict and future sentencing will not bring back Matt, it won’t heal David’s injuries, and it will not make their fellow officers any safer. What it will do, however, is send a very clear message to police officers who take enormous risks in their daily job, that they are valued,” Cahill said.
"The cold, calculated and deliberate murder of Matt, and the attempted murder of Dave were clearly demonstrated, as was Epiha’s intent and lack of remorse.
"It was nothing short of disgusting to witness Epiha’s attempt to shift the blame away from himself."
Epiha and Bracken will be sentenced on October 1.