Millie Elder-Holmes gives evidence at Connor Morris murder trial

Connor Morris (L) and Mille Elder-Holmes (File)
Connor Morris (L) and Mille Elder-Holmes (File)

A neighbour who witnessed the brawl in which Connor Morris died says she was drawn outside to the commotion after hearing screaming and yelling from the street.

Karli-Ann Haenga was at a nearby house on Don Buck Rd, in west Auckland on August 3 last year, where people had gathered to watch a rugby game, when she heard a fracas on the street.

"It sounded full on," she told the court.

She says she looked out onto the street from a lounge on the second storey of the house.

"When I first looked out I saw two people fighting and one guy kind of get ninja-kicked in the stomach, and him flying a metre away."

She then said her friend drew her attention to someone with "a long object" amongst the people fighting.

"He had a pretty staunch walk," she said.

"Then I saw him attack the person over the head who was in another brawl with some other people. Then he fell to the ground."

Ms Haenga said she believed the man who was struck was Mr Morris.

"He was surrounded by two or three - I can't be quite sure - people and in my memory they held him up for a little while and then he was dropped.

"Once he was one the ground there was a dog who also came in and attacked the person, Connor, on the ground.

"And then it kind of all blew up from there."

Michael Thrift Murray, 34, has pleaded not guilty to Mr Morris' murder.

Ms Haenga told the court she saw somebody cradle Mr Morris' head and yell "my baby, my baby, where's the ambulance?"

Under cross examination, defence lawyer Kathryn Maxwell questioned whether it as Mr Morris who Ms Haenga had seen.

"What I'm going to suggest is you may have seen people getting hurt in the street that night, but the incident that you described didn’t involve Connor Morris – you're describing a different assault," she said.

Sharlene Norman was also present at the house with Ms Haenga and told the court she was sure it was Mr Morris who was struck in the incident they saw, and that he didn't move until an ambulance arrived.

Murray 'calm' on night of death

Murray appeared "pretty calm, like nothing had happened" on the night of his death, according to the officer who first spoke to him.

Constable John Klooster knocked on Murray's door after police responded to the fight, where Murray gave him his name and phone number.

Asked if he had been amongst the brawl, Murray said he was "too chicken" and so his "missus went up there" and he had stayed behind to look after the kids.

The focus of the High Court trial has today turned to whether there were other weapons present in the fight, apart from the sickle used to kill Mr Morris.

The Crown asserts the sickle - which they say was swung with murderous intent - brought a "whole new level of violence" to the brawl, while the defence is arguing multiple other weapons were being used and Murray was just trying to protect his younger brother.

Detective Alan Welch described the sickle as a "slasher" saying police found the object when Murray's property was searched two days after the fight took place.

Believing the object to be a police tool, however, an officer picked up the object after it was initially found under some leaves on the property.

Earlier this week a private security officer who attended the scene testified to seeing baseball bats and sticks being used, though everyone involved in the fight has so far denied this being the case.

Giving evidence this morning Detective Scott Foster said police found a knuckleduster outside the property where Mr Morris had been celebrating his sister's housewarming before the brawl broke out. He also said a stake, or metal pole, was found on a grass berm near the house.

A number of similar metal poles were also found in the garage of the property, he said.

Const Klooster and Det Foster were two of numerous police officers who gave evidence today.

'I was screaming … I was f***ing hysterical'

Earlier today Mr Morris' girlfriend Millie Elder-Holmes broke down in tears she recalled the night Mr Morris died.

Ms Elder-Holmes said she and Mr Morris were at a "very chill" family housewarming when the fight broke out.

There were around 12 people at the party, and Mr Morris had been "teasing" her in a good-natured way throughout the night, Ms Elder-Holmes told the court.

Just after midnight she saw Mr Morris abruptly get up and run up the driveway.

"I saw Connor run up the road. I follow him everywhere so I ran after him," she said.

"When we got onto the road it was a mess of people fighting [...] there was a dog running around biting people."

Ms Elder-Holmes said she wasn't worried about Mr Morris' safety as he was a trained kickboxer whom she had seen fight "hundreds of times".

She also noted he was a "fair fighter" who was "not the kind of person to kick [someone] while they're down or bully someone."

Ms Elder-Holmes said when she arrived at the street she saw various scuffles and noticed someone with what she thought was a stick near a car.

As she recounted the moment Mr Morris fell to the ground, Ms Elder-Holmes broke down in tears.

"I just remember seeing him drop out of the corner of my eye. And the way that he fell I knew something was really wrong," she said.

"He fell back like he was unconscious and he hit his head quite hard on the ground when he fell.

"When I saw Connor drop nothing else mattered.

She estimated she was around 10-15 metres away from Mr Morris when he fell.

"I just ran to him. He was my only concern. The way he fell I was so worried."

"I felt a lot of blood rushing out of his head and I could feel his pulse...I was trying to put my hands to stop the bleeding but it was so strong.

"I could feel it throbbing. I was screaming. I was f**king hysterical," she said.

Ms Elder-Holmes is the adopted daughter of Paul Holmes.

The court also heard from police officers on the scene.

The trial before Justice Edwin Wylie has been set down for four weeks.

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