Murder accused pleads not guilty

Millie Elder-Holmes and Connor Morris.
Millie Elder-Holmes and Connor Morris.
The man accused of murdering Connor Morris has pleaded not guilty, to the disgust of Mr Morris's family.

His partner, Millie Elder-Holmes, and his parents were in the High Court at Auckland this morning for the hearing for a 33-year-old West Auckland man accused of his murder.

The accused's attendance had been previously excused.

His lawyer Marie Dyhrberg, QC, entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of her client.

She applied for interim name suppression and said there was not only a threat to the safety of her client but to his family too.

But Justice Timothy Brewer agreed with the Crown's submission that the defendant's name was widely known among the community.

Ms Dyhrberg indicated she would appeal against the judge's decision and she had until Friday morning to file that application.

Names of the defendant's family were suppressed by the judge.

There were grumblings at times from those in the public gallery but Justice Brewer praised them on their restraint.

"I'm impressed you've been able to keep your very real feelings suppressed," he said.

However, as it became clear the man accused of murdering his son would not be named today, Mr Morris' father Chris stormed out of court issuing a flurry of expletives under his breath.

Mr Morris, 26, suffered a fatal head injury during a confrontation outside a party in the West Auckland suburb of Massey exactly one month ago.

He was held by his partner of six years, Millie Elder-Holmes, as he lay dying.

The man accused of his murder was arrested by Auckland police in the Kaitaia area more than two weeks later and his first court appearance took place behind closed doors in the Far North.

Despite his non-appearance at court today, there were still dozens of people packing the court's public gallery – most wearing white "Rest easy Connor Morris T-shirts" - to show their support for the Morris family.

Ms Elder-Holmes sat in the front row next to Mr Morris' parents as other supporters were forced to stand outside and listen from the concourse.

With the victim's Head Hunter gang connections, security at the High Court was beefed up.

Extra security guards had come from Auckland and Manukau District Courts to screen people as they entered the building and there were several police officers present.

However, there was no serious trouble inside or outside court.

The defendant was remanded in custody and will be back in court in November. A four-week trial was scheduled for August next year.

- By Rob Kidd of APNZ

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