The Post

Judge issues challenge to killer Green ribbons farewell Alex


A HIGH Court judge has challenged the man who killed Bruce Coker with a single punch to leave prison a better man.

Justice Joe Williams sentenced Cruz Mason Murray, 27, in the High Court at Wellington yesterday to a jail term of three years, seven months. Murray had been found guilty by jury of assaulting Coker and thereby committing manslaught­er.

Justice Williams said Murray could honour Coker’s memory by the decisions he now made, to do courses in prison and learn skills for life. ‘‘You can decide today that your act of stupidity will not be wasted,’’ he said.

‘‘Leave prison a better man, a better husband, a better father and a better member of your whanau. Make this terrible tragedy the turning point in your life . . . I challenge you to do that.’’

Murray had been at a party in Tawa’s Rossiter St on December 20 last year. Coker had been at a party in the same street. Both had been drinking and Coker had spotted cannabis oil. They met in the street, words were exchanged and Murray punched Coker to the head, striking the right side of his face. Coker fell back on to the road without breaking his fall.

He suffered serious head injuries and brain trauma. He died several days later in hospital.

The judge said Murray made no immediate attempt to help and went back into the party, although he asked someone to call an ambulance.

Murray had 29 previous conviction­s, mainly for driving charges.

Justice Williams said he had three victim impact statements, from Coker’s partner, his daughter and his brother.

The one from his daughter was a tough read, with one paragraph really striking him. ‘‘He was our captain, our backbone, the chief of our tribe, he has been taken. Dad’s death created a realm of hurt and loss beyond words.’’

The judge said Murray maintained Coker had thrown the first punch and that he had retaliated in self-defence. The judge could not discount that there was an element of provocatio­n.

Justice Williams said Murray had told a report writer he wished he had never done it and had walked away. He said Murray was trying to leave the gangs behind, but his behaviour still showed some of his old traits.

Murray’s lawyer, Elizabeth Hall, said the tragic consequenc­es of that momentary flash would live with both families forever. FAMILY and friends donned Alex Fisher’s favourite colour of green for a funeral that celebrated the 10-year-old’s life, tragically cut short last week.

With green ribbons on their arms, hands or pinned to clothing, mourners solemnly carried his quote-covered coffin into the service at Levin’s Salvation Army centre yesterday afternoon.

Horowhenua Deputy Mayor Garry Good, who attended the service, said: ‘‘Green was his favourite colour, so the family all wore green armbands and [had] green balloons.’’

The whole service was ‘‘very touching,’’ he said. ‘‘It was tragic when you go to a service for a 10-year-old . . . that’s a little different to someone who has lived a long life. He was obviously very well liked . . . I think it was very evident through the service [that] he was a very precious member of the family.’’

Good said Alex’s mother, Sandra, recited a poem that had also been read at his grandmothe­r’s funeral only 18 months earlier. ‘‘That wouldn’t be easy . . . a lot of people were moved by the family presentati­on.’’

A message from GovernorGe­neral Sir Jerry Mateparae, who is also the chief of Scouts New Zealand, of which Alex was a member, was read aloud.

‘‘He sent a message to the family . . . that was a nice gesture.’’

Mateparae said he was deeply saddened by the news of Alex’s death, a Government House spokesman said.

His thoughts were with Alex’s family and friends, the scouting community and Horowhenua, and especially Alex’s Scout group St Mary’s, and he conveyed his condolence­s to them all.

Senior Scout members also spoke about Alex and his involvemen­t with the group. ‘‘They provided a guard of honour [for Alex’s casket].’’

Alex was a pupil at Ohau School, and principal Kathy Trevena-Brown spoke and read out a poem. Pupils from the school then sang a waiata.

Alex was an

enthusiast­ic motorbike rider, and Good said his bike was placed at the front of the service near the coffin.

‘‘When they left, once it was over, his older brother rode the motorbike with the hearse.’’

The last portion of the service was a photo slide of Alex’s life to music that he liked. The bugle then played Taps.

Among the mourners was Manawatu area commander Inspector Sarah Stewart, who has been leading the investigat­ion into Alex’s disappeara­nce and death.

His body was found in the Waitarere sand dunes last Thursday, after a three-day search for the boy.

An autopsy found he had suffered head trauma and police have since launched a homicide inquiry.

Members of the Waitarere community gathered on Sunday night to honour Alex at a vigil.

 ?? Photo: DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ ?? Alex Fisher’s mother, Sandra, and other relatives carry his casket at the Salvation Army church in Levin for the 10-year-old’s funeral.
Photo: DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ Alex Fisher’s mother, Sandra, and other relatives carry his casket at the Salvation Army church in Levin for the 10-year-old’s funeral.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand