Eli Epiha gives evidence in own trial, denies intending to kill Constable David Goldfinch

The man who fired multiple shots at Constable David Goldfinch says he wasn't intending to kill him, but could've done so straight away if he'd wanted to.

Eli Epiha has pleaded guilty to killing Constable Matthew Hunt on June 19, 2020, but the 25-year-old denies the attempted murder of Constable David Goldfinch, for which he is currently on trial for.

On Wednesday, Epiha took the unusual step of giving evidence at his own trial at the Auckland High Court.

His defence lawyer Mark Edgar said the "most reliable form of evidence" would come from Epiha.

Epiha told the court he received a call from a distressed relative who said gang members were on the way to a family house. He then went to pick up a gun and was given two.

"I decided the Norinco was the gun I was going to use to scare those gang members away from my family house," he said.

After getting the guns, Epiha started driving through Massey, where the dark purple Toyota he was driving caught the two constables' eyes.

He said he saw a marked police car on Reynella Dr and "gapped it" because he wanted as much distance from them as possible.

As he was driving, he had to brake suddenly when a rubbish truck pulled out. He describes the car doing "a 180 degree-type of a slide" and it ended up hitting a parked car.

By then, the police car had caught up with him and Constable Goldfinch got out.

Epiha said the driver's door of his Toyota was smashed in, so he had to get out the passenger side of the car.

"It was too late to gap it, he was rushing up, he was coming in too hot, too quick," Epiha said.

"He said something to me, he said something like, 'Police, stop, show your hands', or something like that.

"I reached back into the car and grabbed the closest gun and I showed him my hands and then he said, 'Oh f**k, drop the f*****g gun, drop the f*****g gun'."

Eli Epiha.
Eli Epiha. Photo credit: Newshub.

As Constable Goldfinch came closer to him, Epiha said he pointed the gun away from the police officer and fired a warning shot, but said he had no intention of killing him.

"If I wanted to kill him, I would have killed him straight away instead of firing a warning shot," Epiha said.

Epiha said he fired the warning shot so Constable Goldfinch would leave and he could continue to his family house to try to scare the gang members away.

"If I wanted to kill him, I could have killed him right there," Epiha said. "It was never my intention to kill him."

It wasn't until Epiha's cross-examination that he was asked about Constable Hunt. 

"I have to ask the question because your lawyer didn't - at what point did you murder Officer Hunt," Adam Couchman asked.

Couchman is the defence lawyer for Natalie Bracken. She is also on trial and has denied being an accessory after the fact of murder by helping Epiha avoid arrest.

"With all due respect Mr Couchman, I'm on trial for Goldfinch. I've already pleaded guilty to the unintentional murder of Mr Hunt and I'm very, very sorry to his family," Epiha responded.

Earlier, the court was played a police interview from Bracken. 

"The guy [Constable Hunt] was already on the road, he went back and shot him again," she said.

"He was like, 'Get me the f**k out of here, like, f*****g take me in this car now'."