We'll keep Morris' killer safe, say prisons

Last updated 05:00 10/08/2014
Chris Morris
HIGH-POWERED FAREWELL: Chris Morris, father of slain Connor Morris, salutes a Head Hunters burnout at his son’s funeral service.
Connor Morris
'EXTRAORDINARY PAIN': Millie Elder-Holmes' partner Connor Morris was killed in a group fight in West Auckland.

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The Corrections Department vows to take steps to protect the killer of Connor Morris if he is remanded in custody, as fears grow the Head Hunters gang will seek retribution for the slaying.

Morris, 26, a member of the feared Head Hunters, died last weekend after an altercation between two groups in Massey, West Auckland. Police have yet to make an arrest.

Both Morris' girlfriend Millie Elder-Holmes and his father, Head Hunters member Chris "One Eye" Morris, shared links on Facebook to articles saying retribution for the killing was likely, including comments by criminologist Greg Newbold that the person would be in "deep trouble" with the gang and would be terrified.

Elder-Holmes did not respond to messages about why she posted the articles. On Friday night she posted a dramatic account of what happened in the lead-up to the attack, describing how she lay on top of Morris and held the back of his head as blood gushed out, and screamed for help, but none came.

She claimed police and ambulance were too slow in getting to the scene.

A source who attended Morris' funeral at the Head Hunters "Fight Club" on Thursday said club members were talking about "utu" and "payback" for the murder, and would bide their time and strike once the killer was in the mainstream prison system.

A Corrections spokesperson said yesterday: "We will not tolerate prisoners using violence against another prisoner. A prisoner responsible for violence will be held to account for their actions."

The spokesperson said the department was continuously working to improve safety and security at all prisons but couldn't comment on specific tactics and strategies used to manage prisoners who might be at risk.

A memorial Facebook page for Morris was yesterday full of speculation that police already had the offender and were "hiding" him for his protection.

Police refused to discuss suspects or talk of retribution, Detective Inspector Greg Cramer saying in a statement "this is a sensitive investigation that will not benefit from being played out in the media". He said police had spoken to a large number of people and were making good progress.

Convicted murderer Wayne Doyle, president of the club's East chapter, would not be drawn on Newbold's comments about retribution.

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"Greg Newbold is a very clever man, but I only remember him when he was a junkie in prison. I'm not really fussed by what he says. That's his opinion. He's entitled to it."

A senior police source with knowledge of gangs said retribution was highly likely, but maybe not in the "breaking legs" sense. "Extortion is a favourite of the Head Hunters so a financial business-type settlement worth tens of thousands would be much more likely."

But a person who went to Morris' funeral on Thursday said Head Hunters in attendance were not talking about a monetary settlement. "People were talking straight up ‘utu' and ‘paybacks' in the violent sense."

The source told how one long-serving Head Hunter said that the club would bide its time and wait for the killer to enter the mainstream prison system. "He told me [the Head Hunters] can touch them anywhere, regardless of the prison they go to or whether they are in mainstream or segs [segregation]."

In a post on Facebook on Friday night which she later deleted, Elder-Holmes said she and Morris had been at Morris' sister Cymmion's housewarming on Don Buck Rd in Massey, West Auckland. Elder-Holmes described it as a small gathering of about 15.

But it turned into a nightmare when three people went to get drinks from a Mobil gas station and were "jumped".

"Connor was to my left, on the sidewalk when I saw him drop and fall backwards to the ground, I ran to him and jumped onto him, chest to chest with my head snuggled into his neck and my [hands] behind his head. I could feel a strong push of blood rushing from the back of his head and tried to stop this with my hands."

According to Elder-Holmes, it took 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, and the ambulance initially took Morris to North Shore Hospital instead of Auckland central.

Elder-Holmes and Morris' father, Chris, rode in the ambulance while his sister and her partner followed behind.

- Sunday Star Times

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