11 Sep 2015

Connor Morris's killer fears for his life

12:33 pm on 11 September 2015

The lawyer for the man convicted of murdering the son of a prominent Head Hunters gang member says her client fears for his life in jail every day.

Connor Morris

Connor Morris Photo: Facebook

Michael Murray, 34, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of ten years for killing Connor Morris when he hit him in the head with a sickle during a street fight in West Auckland.

Justice Edwin Wylie said Murray had already spent a year apart from other prisoners, because of threats to his safety, and that was likely to continue. That was unfortunate, but not unique, said Justice Wylie.

Murray's lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg QC, said he would suffer being in isolation for so long, but there was no other choice due to the threats made against him.

"Anybody who's isolated from normal communications with people is going to suffer, it's a form of torture, we know that, but there's no other way he can deal with it. He just simply cannot mix with the normal prison population. He fears everyday for his life."

Ms Dyhrberg said the sentence was fair, but she was looking for grounds to appeal against the conviction.

Murray had argued he was defending his younger brother who was being attacked, when he struck Mr Morris with the sickle just over a year ago.

At the sentencing in the Auckland High Court this morning, Justice Wylie said the victim impact statements showed his offending had profound and devastating effects on Mr Morris' family and his partner Millie Holmes.

He said he accepted he was trying to protect his younger brother in a fight, but he used excessive force.

He told Murray his case had all the characteristics that are frequently associated with serious assaults and killings.

"The evidence of an eyewitness - who had not been drinking, and had no relationship with any of the parties involved - was that you did not pause, that you did not do anything to get Mr Morris' attention and that it looked like you knew you you were going in there to do."

Some members of the gallery quietly hugged and kissed each other, while one woman cursed the judge before she was led from court.