10 Dec 2021

Mother of Matthew Hunt says nothing will 'change the horrific outcome of that day'

1:32 pm on 10 December 2021

The mother of slain police officer Matthew Hunt says she wanted to face her son's killer in court for his cruel and callous actions.

Eli Epiha was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non parole period of 27 years for the murder of Constable Hunt and the attempted murder of his colleague in the High Court in Auckland this morning.

In court, the mother of the murdered police officer, Diane Hunt, said Epiha had the opportunity to take responsibility for his actions, but instead he chose to put the family through a two week trial where he took the stand and lied.

"Added to that we had to ensure your supporters streaming the trial on Tik Tok, with I Shot the Sheriff playing in the background over gunshots. To see people celebrating your actions in murdering my son during your trial in that way, I can't really describe in words, horrific being one of them perhaps.

"Because of your inability to control yourself and your sense of entitlement my son is dead - the consequences are now that you will go to jail."

Outside court Diane Hunt read from a statement saying although the sentencing brings an end to the court process it will "never change the horrific outcome of that day which led to Matthew being murdered".

"It's hard for me to stand here and put into words or a statement what effect losing Matthew has had on us all, let alone the manner in which he was taken. There are no words that can describe it but all I can say is that we will never be the same people we were before his cruel and callous murder."

She said they were very proud when Matthew became a police officer but naively never believed that her son doing the job that he loved would ultimately see his life taken.

"He was only 28 years old, he had his whole life ahead of him and so much more to offer to this world."

She said it was disturbing to hear that police officers were still regularly facing similar threats acknowledging the three police officers shot and injured in Glen Eden wishing them a speedy recovery.

"As a mother I cannot describe the terrible feeling of loss of losing a child. I don't want another mother to ever get the news that their strong, kind and brave son is never coming home again."

Slain police officer Matthew Hunt.

Matthew Hunt was only 28 years old when he was murdered in June 2020. Photo: NZ Police / Facebook

Hunt said she would continue to work hard in Matthew's memory, as well as for his police friends and colleagues to make sure they can protect themselves and the public they serve.

"We now face our second Christmas without Matthew but he will be in our thoughts and hearts and he will never be forgotten."

Epiha's uncle Warren Epiha addressed the court saying Epiha had bestowed shame upon his family.

"He gets to live while your son doesn't. For that I apologise," he said.

From the back of the court, Diane Hunt told him "you should be ashamed".

But outside court she said she had spoken to Warren Epiha afterwards and shook his hand telling him it was "not his crime to bear" and that his nephew had to take responsibility.

Eli Epiha at his sentencing at the High Court in Auckland.

Eli Epiha was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 27 years. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster acknowledged the "incredible strength and dignity" demonstrated by Matthew Hunt's family, particularly his mother Diane and his sister Ellie, and friends during the trial.

"They have had to sit through a trial with quite shocking and detailed evidence of the callous way that Matt was shot, and casually left to die by the offender. We continue to stand with Diane and Ellie, and they will always be part of our police family," he said in a statement.

"The cowardly and appalling act that followed has changed many people's lives forever. Matt's family, his friends, his workmates. My staff will forever remember the deep impact of what occurred and the horrific manner in which it occurred."

Coster said Constable Hunt had a promising police career and his whole life ahead of him and his life was taken in just a few moments leaving behind friends, family and colleagues who still feel deep pain and grief.

He said the police would ensure that "Matt's legacy will never be forgotten" asking the community to not remember "the deliberate and awful acts of one individual" but to honour his life by remembering the great work he did.

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