Head Hunter gang links concern

Last updated 18:21 04/08/2014
stuff.co.nz

Police are trying to establish how many people were involved in a street brawl that left Millie Elder-Holmes' boyfriend Connor Morris dead.

Millie Elder-Holmes and Connor Morris
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FACEBOOK: Millie Elder-Holmes and Connor Morris in a Facebook photo dated June 6 and captioned as marking their six year anniversary.
Millie Elder-Holmes and Connor Morris
DAVID ROWLAND
METH CHARGES: Millie Elder-Holmes and Connor Morris leave Auckland District Court in 2009 after being remanded on charges of possessing of methamphetamine.
Connor Morris
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CONNOR MORRIS: Millie Elder-Holmes' boyfriend Connor Morris has been stabbed and killed in West Auckland.

West Auckland homicide probe

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Connor Morris's affiliations with the Head Hunter gang means police will be prepared for any possible violent retaliation in response to his death, the Police Association president says.

The 26-year-old boyfriend of Paul Holmes' adopted daughter Millie Elder-Holmes was killed early Sunday morning following a fight in Massey, West Auckland.

Morris and a group of about 15 people were walking to the service station to get refreshments when a fight broke out with another similar-sized group having a party on Don Buck Rd.

Morris sustained head injuries, inflicted by an unknown weapon, and later died on the way to hospital. No one had been arrested in relation to the killing.

On Sunday Detective Inspector Greg Cramer said the incident was not gang-related and declined to comment on Morris's police history.

Morris was known to police and his father was a member of the Head Hunters motorcycle gang and Morris himself was once a prospect.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said given the nature of the people involved police would be on high-alert in case anyone associated with Morris sought retribution.

HIGHLY ORGANISED

Canterbury University sociology professor Greg Newbold said the Head Hunters were a highly-organised gang and they would not take matters into their own hands as it was likely the police would arrest the person who did it.

However, it was likely that person would "get a hiding" in prison from people who were associated with Morris's friends and family, Newbold said.

Because the attack was not gang-related and did not appear to have anything to do with gang business the Head Hunters were unlikely to retaliate as a group, Newbold said, adding that rogue gang members or friends could still try and take matters into their own hands.

The possibility of a violent retaliation was explanation for the M4 assault rifles carried by police guarding the scene yesterday, he said.

There was also likely to be a police presence at Morris's funeral and at court appearances of the people involved in the attack, as emotions would be running high and violence could break out, Newbold said.

Patched members of the Head Hunters gang were talking to police close to the scene on Don Buck Rd today.

Police said investigations into the homicide were ongoing and Morris's body had been returned to his family.

O'Connor said West Auckland police hoped this latest incident in a string of violent crimes in the area would put the focus on crime in the area and help the authorities get the resources they needed.

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STRING OF VIOLENT DEATHS

Morris's death marks the sixth violent death in West Auckland in less than three months.

Farhat Malik and her daughter Sidra Malik were stabbed to death in their home in Ranui on May 20.

Two days later 23-year-old Josh Roach was shot and killed and another man was injured in the same Ranui neighbourhood.

On June 10 dairy owner Arun Kumar was killed at his shop in Henderson. A truant 13-year-old was arrested and charged with his murder.

And on June 20 police found a man's body inside a burning West Auckland house after going to help an injured woman at a neighbouring property in what was believed to be a domestic dispute.

Detective Inspector Cramer said Morris's death was an "isolated incident" involving two groups if people who had an altercation. 

Increased police patrols in the area were "making a difference", he said.

"There's no way that we can be everywhere all of the time."

O'Connor said there reassurances from authorities that crime in West Auckland was decreasing but this did not stack up.

"You can't hide the bodies."

West Auckland police were overwhelmed and under-resourced and the general lawlessness in the Henderson city centre led local police to believe "it was a homicide waiting to happen", he said.

Waitakere ward councillor Linda Cooper said despite the recent spate of violent crimes she did not feel unsafe in her community.

However, the brutal crimes of the past few months highlighted some deep-seated societal issues.

"People don't respect each other anymore."

There were parenting problems at play and the prevalence of gangs in the area exacerbated the problem, she said.

A small group in the community did most of the damage, she said, adding that as much as 45 per cent of crime in New Zealand was gang-related.

"A small number have a huge effect."

Cooper said council was working with police, businesses and community groups to identify problems in the area and how best to tackle them.

Last month Auckland Council announced police were ramping up safety measures in Henderson following the flurry of violent incidents.

And today Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said the government was taking a multi-agency approach involving intelligence-gathering, enhanced law enforcement, prevention, intervention, rehabilitation and reintegration to address New Zealand gangs and transnational crime groups. 

Despite steps taken by authorities to deter crime in the area not everyone in the community felt safe.

Manish Arora, who works at the Challenge service station next to where Morris was attacked, said he was worried about all the violent attacks that had taken place recently.

Dylan Atutolu wrote on Twitter this morning: "Another 187 in the wild wild west. Another blue tent with a perimeter of white police tape. RIP Connor Morris."

- Stuff

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