Wounded constable kept away from ED as doctors tried in vain to save partner's life

Author
Craig Kapitan, The Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Jul 2021, 2:42PM
Constable Matthew Hunt has been remembered in Parliament. Photo / Supplied
Constable Matthew Hunt has been remembered in Parliament. Photo / Supplied

Wounded constable kept away from ED as doctors tried in vain to save partner's life

Author
Craig Kapitan, The Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Jul 2021, 2:42PM

A paramedic who was among the first to help injured Constable David Goldfinch last year testified that she waited with him in the ambulance outside the hospital, then took him in a different entrance so he wouldn't see emergency department staff trying in vain to save his partner's life.

St John emergency medical technician Joanne Stuart told jurors at the trial of Epi Bob Sauni Epiha, who is charged with the attempted murder of Goldfinch, that she was called to "quite a chaotic scene" in West Auckland on the morning of June 19, 2020.

She initially made her way towards Officer Matthew Hunt, who was already being attended to in the middle of the road for gunshot wounds. But her ambulance was diverted one road over — to where Goldfinch, unarmed and bleeding, eventually fled to.

Epiha, 25, pleaded guilty last week to Hunt's murder, although he contends the death was due to recklessness rather than murderous intent. He also pleaded guilty to reckless driving, resulting in the injury of a bystander, as he fled the officers.

Testimony in the Auckland High Court trial for Epiha's one remaining charge — attempted murder — began Monday. Jurors are also tasked with deciding the fate of co-defendant Natalie Bracken, who is accused of being an accessory after the fact to murder, having driven Epiha from the shooting.

Eli Epiha, 25, is on trial for attempted murder, accused of targeting Constable David Goldfinch. He pleaded guilty to the murder of Goldfinch's partner, Constable Matthew Hunt. Photo / Brett Phibbs

"Constable Goldfinch was on the floor. He was being supported by other police officers," said Stuart, the first person of the day to take the witness stand on Tuesday. "His right trouser was rolled up [and] I could see a bandage.

"He was in a lot of pain."

Crown prosecutors told jurors a day earlier that Epiha shot at Goldfinch 10 times with a military-style semi-automatic rifle. Goldfinch was hit four times — once through the hip, twice through the leg and one bullet hitting his boot.

"He was very lucky that day," prosecutor Alysha McClintock said in her opening statement. "But as Constable Goldfinch ran for his life, Constable Hunt got out of his police car.

"He was shot four times by Mr Epiha in the back of his body. Constable Hunt must have been turned away from Mr Epiha and either hunched over or on the ground. He never really had a chance of survival — such was the damage done to him."

Stuart said today that she arrived at the hospital with Goldfinch "a couple minutes" after his partner.

"The police officer asked if we could just wait with Officer Goldfinch," she recalled, explaining that her patient was in a stable condition so the request wasn't unusual. "We paused for a while until the ED staff had worked with Matthew."

Under cross-examination from defence counsel Marcus Edgar, she said Goldfinch was conscious and alert and had a strong, regular pulse.

Natalie Bracken is on trial alongside co-defendant Eli Epiha. She is accused of being an accessory after the fact to the murder of Officer Matthew Hunt. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Immediately after Stuart's testimony, prosecutors read aloud a statement from fellow St John paramedic Trent Hirst, who was directed that morning to care for Mohammed Sattar, the bystander who was injured by Epiha's fleeing car along the same street before the shooting.

Hirst reported seeing two damaged cars, and the injured man being attended to by his wife in a nearby driveway. He was told Sattar had been packing the boot of his Toyota Prius for a family trip to Rotorua that Friday morning when he was injured, although he couldn't remember being hit.

"He was leaning into the boot and [next] remembered being dragged into the driveway by his wife," the paramedic said.

They took Sattar to the hospital quickly, and not just because of his injuries, Hirst said.

"We were aware the offender had absconded and wanted to get out of the scene," he explained.

Prosecutors continue to call witnesses.