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

The woman who drove Constable Matthew Hunt’s killer away from the scene told police he’d threatened her with a gun.

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An police interview with Natalie Bracken was played at the High Court in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

“Drive, drive… I just killed a cop,” Eli Epiha allegedly said to her.

Natalie Bracken is on trial for being an accessory after the fact of Matthew Hunt’s murder, accused of knowingly helping Epiha avoid arrest.

A 12-person jury were today played the police interview conducted with the 31-year-old, on the day she was arrested.

The defendant was visibly emotional during questioning by police and the court heard she was also in tears on her way to the station.

“I was just trying to save everyone,” she told a detective.

In the interview, Bracken explained to police she didn’t know Epiha prior to the incident, but admitted, “I’ve seen him once probably. He looks familiar”.

When asked to recount what happened on Reynella Drive in Massey, she told police her day had begun with a cup of tea and cigarette at her neighbour’s house.

She recalled going outside when the dog began barking, after they heard a bang.

As she got to the street, she spotted a man lying on the ground, his wife hunched over him and screaming.

Epiha's admitted to dangerous driving causing injury to that member of the public.

Bracken recalled running to them and asking if they were okay, testimony which has been verified by the man who was injured and his wife.

“I tried to help her pick her husband up.. and he was bleeding on the back of his head”. She claims she yelled out to her friend, “call an ambulance”.

“[Epiha] was already shooting at the two cops,” she said, “the one that ended up dead wasn’t dead yet.”

She said the shooter was carrying his gun, and “it looked like a big machine gun”.

“He was like running around sort of, and just shooting up at the cops,” Bracken said.

“I don’t even know why he was shooting him.”

She said she didn’t see how Constable Hunt ended up on the ground but said as he was lying there, “I seen the guy walk up to him afterwards and then shoot him again while he was on the ground”.

She estimated that Hunt was shot twice more after falling.

The gunman, she said, then "turned around and he started shooting at the other cop”.

“I remember the cop running and screaming ‘stop, stop.’”

As the clip played, Bracken sat quietly in the dock, her head down and her hair obscuring her face.

The 31-year-old went on to recall how Epiha confronted her and her friends, saying “get me the f*** outta here".

“He had the gun out and everything and he was like ‘hurry the f*** up’, he had a gun so I just jumped in the car and drove him away”, she said, claiming her friend’s car was unlocked and had the keys in it.

Footage captured Bracken unlocking the car, barefoot, and driving Epiha away.

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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

“I didn't realise the extent of what I was doing. I didn't know that this would all happen. I thought I was doing the right thing,” she said.

“I didn’t want him to shoot anyone… I thought he was gonna shoot, he could have shot any of us,” she told the officer.

“I like I felt I did it for my safety and I thought I was doing the right thing by protecting everyone.”

“I didn’t know what to do,” she said several times during questioning.

“That's why I didn't came to the police,” she said.

Natalie Bracken. Source: 1 NEWS

Bracken claimed she was only with Epiha for 10-15 minutes, as she drove him.

On the way, she said, “he made two or three phone calls, like saying goodbye to everyone”.

“He was like, hey, f***, I love you my brother. I’m gone. I’m off. I’m going away for a long time.”

“Said to tell his wife he loved her,” she said.

After arriving at an unfamiliar property, Bracken said, “then he told me to leave and I was driving back home”.

She also told Police that she didn’t think the officer she’d seen on the ground, Constable Hunt, had died, as he was wearing a vest.

The interview ended after a lawyer arrived to assist Bracken, and she told Police she didn’t want to talk to them any further.

The jury’s been told that Bracken’s recount of what happened on June 19 last year is only relevant to her case and cannot be used as evidence in regards to Epiha’s attempted murder charge.

He has accepted murdering Constable Hunt, but says he didn’t intend to kill Constable Goldfinch, who was left with serious gunshot wounds.

The officer who arrested and interviewed Bracken also gave evidence today, recalling that when he found her, her hair was wet.

Detective Sergeant Ashley Matthews told the court he believed it’d just been dyed, and noted “colour dripping off the back of her hair”.

The Crown has now completed its case, but the trial continues.