Bail no barrier to Head Hunter's play time

Builders put the finishing touches on an adventure playground at Stephen Daly's home in Whangarei last year.
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Builders put the finishing touches on an adventure playground at Stephen Daly's home in Whangarei last year.

He is a member of a notorious gang and faces serious criminal charges, but Stephen William Daly might also be in the running for father of the year.

The Head Hunters member, on electronic bail for his alleged role in armed kidnappings in the Bay of Plenty a year ago, was so frustrated at not being allowed to leave his Whangarei property and take his kids to the playground that he took extreme measures - bringing the playground to them.

The 33-year-old saw a school playground being auctioned on TradeMe with a $1 reserve and began bidding.

"I thought 'we can do this'. We had the space for it, it seemed cool, like a mean idea."

Competition was fierce but he won the auction - "we got it for about two grand" - and he sent a relative down to Opotiki in the Eastern Bay of Plenty to pick it up.

Stephen Daly is wearing an ankle monitor while on bail awaiting trial on kidnap charges.
TONY WALL / FAIRFAX NZ

Stephen Daly is wearing an ankle monitor while on bail awaiting trial on kidnap charges.

But it was completely dismantled, and Daly had to figure out how to put it back together in his back yard in Mahana Pl, Raumanga, a poor suburb of Whangarei.

"We had no instructions or anything, just photos off TradeMe. We'd grab one pole, look through all the photos at where the gaps were - we jigsaw puzzled it for about two weeks. Our builder was bloody awesome."

When it was finally completed, Daly posted his delight on Facebook with the post: "It gets to ya telling ya babies you can't take them to the park because I'm on the bracelet so I did something about it. I no longer have that problem. ... school playground at home, boom."

Stephen Daly on his bike, playground in background.
SUPPLIED

Stephen Daly on his bike, playground in background.

Daly is slowly building his property into a paradise for his children, aged 7 and 6, whom Stuff has chosen not to name. He's just put in a pool and is now laying large decks. Also on the property yesterday was a jetski and a four-wheel motorbike, as well as a pet turtle that had escaped its enclosure.

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Previous Facebook posts show Daly driving a vintage muscle car, registration Psyko, and dining with members of reggae band UB40. 

Daly said he wanted to create a safe environment at home for his children, as it was "dangerous" out in the community. "The kids get back from school at three and they're on the playground until seven. It's like a babysitter. My older teenagers are out there too - even my mates are jumping up on it."

Head Hunters gang member Stephen Daly.
SUPPLIED

Head Hunters gang member Stephen Daly.

Daly plans to have the playground spray painted next week so it looks like new. He admitted he found it hard to say 'no' to his kids. "There's a park right near us, but trying to explain why you can't take them...." 

His partner, Cheyenne Neilson, said her children were incredibly lucky to have the playground. "It's awesome - I wish we had something like that growing up."

What do the kids think? "I thought it was pretty coool and we were pretty lucky." says one. "It's cool," says the other. 

Daly, who was friends with murdered Head Hunters member Connor Morris, said he remained a member of the gang's East chapter. "I don't deny any of my ties. I like riding motorbikes, that's what I do - but I haven't been able to do it much stuck at home."

He said he wanted his kids to enjoy their childhoods. "There's too much stress in growing old - I want them to stay young for as long as possible."

Daly and eight Head Hunters colleagues have pleaded not guilty to the kidnappings and will stand trial later this year.

Police allege a man in his 20s was abducted from a property in Tauranga on February 16 and robbed of $10,000. The following morning, a man in his 40s was abducted from a property in Rotorua.

Three vehicles were stolen during the two incidents. The older victim managed to escape several hours later and the younger one was released that night. Both had allegedly been assaulted.

 - Stuff

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