Mean streets of 'lawless' South Auckland

Last updated 00:26 12/09/2008
PETER DRURY/Waikato Times
SUBURBAN HORROR: An armed policeman guards the scene where two officers were shot, one fatally, bringing the number of alleged murders in 'lawless' South Auckland to seven in just 15 weeks.

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The killing of an undercover police officer outside a suspected P lab, apparently with a high-powered air rifle, has brought the number of alleged murders in South Auckland to seven in just 15 weeks.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor last night described the area as "lawless", with not enough police to deal with the thousands of unsolved burglaries and aggravated robberies that spiral into more serious crime.

Manukau Acting Mayor Gary Troup said the city, in the most heavily policed district for its size, had been working to strengthen communities, "but our job is next to impossible when we are confronted with the face of evil".

Sergeant Don Wilkinson, 46, of Waimauku, West Auckland, died from a single shot to the upper body about 1.45am yesterday.

He and another officer were disturbed by occupants of a suspected Mangere P lab as they installed a tracking device on a car outside.

The other sergeant, 44, wearing a stab-proof vest, was beaten and shot several times but survived.

As the pair ran, they radioed for help to five armed officers a block away, but the five were too late.

Superintendent Ted Cox said two men in a car chased the undercover officers 75 metres around a corner before shooting them.

Intelligence had not identified firearms or a high risk. Had police known arms could be involved, the operation would have been handled "entirely differently".

Police recovered a 5.5 calibre, gas-powered air rifle fitted with a scope from the house that "would appear to be what's responsible".

Two men later appeared in Manukau District Court. One, 37, was charged with murder and the other, 34, with assault.

Both men and the wounded police officer - who was in a comfortable condition last night and will not require surgery - have name suppression.

Detective Inspector John Tims said the police were a tight family and were reeling from the tragedy. "When one gets hurt, we all hurt."

Mr Wilkinson, an officer for nine years, was single and had no children.

Police in Counties-Manukau were already dealing with six murder inquiries.

On June 3 Katie Powles, 26, was killed when another driver smashed into her car in Karaka. Four days later dairy owner Navtej Singh was shot in the head during a robbery at his Manurewa store.

In the following two weeks Yin Ping Yang, 80, died after being attacked in her Manurewa home and businesswoman Joanne Wang was run down when she tried to retrieve her snatched purse outside Westfield Mall in Manukau.

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Last month John Hapeta, 14, was bashed to death at his birthday party in Weymouth and John Maeva, 25, was shot dead outside his Papatoetoe home.

- The Dominion Post

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