Napier gunman had 'serious issues'

Last updated 13:41 10/05/2009

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Napier gunman Jan Molenaar was a loner with a persecution complex, prone to bursts of extreme temper, he liked guns, hated authority, was linked to recreational drugs and steroids, and was devastated by the death of a brother, who committed suicide.

Once he had gunned down Senior Constable Len Snee, who had come to his house on a routine drugs bust, friends of Molenaar predicted he would not be captured alive.

And so it proved, with the 51-year-old yesterday found dead in his home on Chaucer Rd. A tense, angry man with an army background and an arsenal of guns who had lost it, with fatal consequences.

Now the many parts of his complex makeup have been put together and the bloody outcome is known, it seems a wonder that no one saw disaster looming.

Certainly the police officers he shot did not appear to – their mission was described as "routine", with Molenaar known to police, but seemingly not regarded as extremely dangerous.

A Wellington clinical psychologist said it may have been difficult to predict Molenaar would react the way he did.

"We can now say he was a man who had some serious issues," she said.

"When we look at all the factors combined it's easy to say he was a ticking time bomb, but a week ago we didn't have a reason to look at the whole package.

"Even then, people's behaviour can escalate, for a variety of reasons, in this case with disastrous consequences."

Molenaar "escalated" on Thursday when he came home from walking his dog, Harley, to find police interrogating his girlfriend, Delwyn Keefe, 43.

He snapped, and within minutes bullets had flown, Mr Snee was dead, and neighbour Leonard Holmwood and Senior Constables Grant Diver and Bruce Miller seriously hurt.

"His actions seem inexplicable and completely out of proportion to a cannabis search warrant," police Superintendent Sam Hoyle said.

Molenaar was already angry with police after they called at his home at 11pm, about two weeks earlier, friend Tony Moore told the New Zealand Herald website.

He walked his dog at same time every day, so when he came home to find police had taken advantage of his absence to go to his home and interrogate his partner, he blew up.

"He wasn't a malicious person, he was provoked," Mr Moore said.

"He warned them, three or four times, then he started to pump.

"I've been out with him on big shoot ups at times, going back, and you can see him getting tense, and it's out with the gun."

And so Molenaar, variously described as a loving father and son, good mate, reliable neighbour and "softie", entered the downward spiral which led to notoriety and death.

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Molenaar grew up in Napier. He went to Nelson Park Primary, Napier Intermediate and William Colenso College.

Though portrayed as a school bully, his mother Anna said he liked school, where he was active in sport.

At 14, he discovered weightlifting and became so strong he could lug one of his brothers on his back up Napier Hill.

He got a job on the railways, joined the territorials, settled down in Napier with a partner and fathered a son, who is now in his late teens or early 20s and lives in Auckland.

In the 1980s, he spent six years in the territorials, serving in the armoured corps of the Hawke's Bay Wellington Regiment.

He never served overseas, left the territorials in 1988 and has not had any involvement with the army since.

A few years later his railways job ended, so he worked as a bouncer at Napier pubs. His relationship fell apart, and he settled down with Ms Keefe.

They were quiet, tidy and had normal family issues, friends and neighbours said. Molenaar owned a BMW car, a Harley Davidson motorbike and a knock-about car.

At the gym, he pumped himself up with weights and steroids, but didn't drink, smoke, or do drugs.

He loathed gangs, believing the Mongrel Mob was out to get him.

In 2003 his brother, Johan, killed himself after dabbling in methamphetamine. Molenaar blamed the Mob, as they manufactured the drug.

Though paranoid police were out to get him, Molenaar disliked gangs even more, so had a relationship with police, with whom he discussed Napier's drug underworld, primary school friend Arthur Hyde told the Sunday Star-Times.

"I understand from discussions with him that he had the occasional discussion with senior police. They may have used his position to their advantage. It could have been intelligence, it could have been also to do favours for them."

Mr Hyde disagreed with portrayals of Molenaar as a potential serial killer. "To me he just seems like he has just snapped."

 

- NZPA

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