Graeme Burton's murderous rampage in Lower Hutt hills gallery

KENT BLECHYNDEN MAARTEN HOLL Kent Blechynden Supplied ROSS GIBLIN PHIL REID/FAIRFAX NZ KEVIN STENT

Armed police swarm Summit Rd in Lower Hutt ahead of killer Graeme Burton's capture on January 6, 2007.

Mountain bikers Nick Rea and daughter Kate escaped with bruises and shrapnel wounds after encountering Burton on a fire break.

An Armed Offenders Squad member searches for killer Graeme Burton on Wainuiomata Hill Rd.

Murdered quad biker Karl Kuchenbecker.

A hearse waits on Summit Rd to remove Karl Kuchenbecker's body.

Graeme Burton, in a wheelchair, is surrounded by guards at Wellington High Court during his sentencing in April 2007.

A floral tribute lies where Karl Kuchenbecker was killed in the Wainuiomata hills.

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Convicted killer Graeme Burton shocked the nation by going on a deadly rampage in the Lower Hutt bush in 2007, soon after being freed from prison.

Armed policemen and helicopters swarmed the hills above the suburb of Fairfield after Burton shot dead a quad biker and wounded four others on Saturday, January 6.

Waterloo-raised Burton, then 35, had served 14 years after stabbing to death nightclub lighting technician Paul Neville Anderson in 1992. He made headlines in 1998 when he escaped Auckland Prison, going on the run in the Coromandel for 11 days with other convicts and sparking a 120-strong police manhunt.

Months before being granted life parole in July 2006, Burton had scored high on a psychopathy test and had ordered a "hit" on two prison guards. He also badly hurt several inmates, who were too scared to report their attacker.

Burton himself had protested about being set free, it emerged during his trial in 2007. He told his parole officer he would kill a neighbour out of fear for his own safety, and begged to go back to jail, but was still released. He had 101 convictions.

"He began taking 'a kaleidoscope of drugs' to deal with the stress and began committing crime," The Dominion Post reported at the trial.

Just before Christmas 2006, Burton beat up a man in a Wellington apartment and disappeared. Police uncovered an arsenal of military-style weapons at his home, including a Glock pistol, sawn-off rifles, knives, and a Kevlar helmet.

A month earlier, police had told Burton's probation officer he was using the drug P, threatening drug dealers and could murder again.

"It was an avoidable tragedy," The Dominion Post later wrote of the Hutt killing.

"Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews was quick to say there was no connection between the tragedy and the management of Burton's parole, and that 'there's no blood on my hands'.

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"He rapidly expressed regret for that statement. The facts suggest he could do nothing else."

On Friday night, January 5, Burton and two other men broke into a Moera house armed with a pistol and a hammer. Burton ransacked the house looking for money and drugs, and dragged a 17-year-old resident around the house before knocking him senseless.

"He is huge, tall and very solid. I've never been hit so hard in all my life," the teen, Khan Thompson, told the paper.

The next day, Wainuiomata truck driver Karl Kuchenbecker was quad biking in Lower Hutt's eastern hills when he encountered Burton, who shot him dead.

Two mountain bikers soon came across Burton leaning over the quad bike, trying to escape, while Kuchenbecker's body lay on the ground nearby. Burton shot them both, one in the elbow, and the men dropped their bikes and ran down to the fire break exit on Summit Rd.

Another two bikers then encountered Burton: Nick Rea and his 18-year-old daughter Kate, who got shrapnel in her neck and wrist when Burton's shotgun went off accidentally.

Burton punched her father in the face and told him at knifepoint to start the farm bike, but soon sped off on his mountain bike, passing the first two bikers, who dived into the gorse to hide.

Kate, a former head girl at Chilton college, described Burton as "wired up" and "frothing at the mouth". She ran to Wainuiomata Hill Rd and asked a passing motorist to call police.

Officers confronted Burton on Summit Rd, and shot him in the leg when he would not surrender. The leg was later amputated.

While in Wellington Hospital under heavy armed guard, Burton was found with a knife under his pillow. On January 12 another manhunt was sparked when a hospital visitor threatened to kill police after being denied access to Burton.

The 1.96-metre tall Burton then attacked a guard in a van as he was transported from the hospital to prison on January 24.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment in April 2007, with a 26-year minimum non-parole period for his Hutt rampage.

But his violence continued. He was moved to Auckland's Paremoremo prison on March 28 after sparking a nine-hour riot at Rimutaka prison, smashing windows, threatening guards and lighting fires with other inmates.

In late 2008 he stabbed fellow prisoner Dwayne Marsh, 39, seven times with a stainless steel rod from a medical trolley, piercing his heart. Marsh lived, and Burton was convicted of attempted murder.

Burton is next eligible for possible release in 2033.

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 - Stuff

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