Editorial: It's high time this case was closed

By Scott Inglis


It's likely that until this week most readers wouldn't have heard of the Howard Percy cold case.

Plenty of other cold cases have had publicity over the years - including the infamous Jeannette and Harvey Crewe murders, which incidentally also featured in the media and on television this week.

But the Percy case has pretty much flown under the radar.

Until now.

In 1976, security guard Howard Percy, who spent about 13 years living in Bethlehem and Papamoa, was shot dead after tackling a bank robber in a violent raid in Rotorua.

The ANZ bank that Mr Percy was guarding was first targeted by a robber on July 16, 1976. The offender then tied up two tellers and Mr Percy before taking about $13,000.

Nearly four months later, on November 5, the bank was raided again. Mr Percy was again on duty but this time tackled the offender, resulting in his being shot twice.

He died on the way to hospital.

But, as sometimes happens with these old cases, police have received fresh leads which have led a team of detectives to take a fresh look at the evidence.

Mr Percy's son Ross is a Tauranga resident and has bravely spoken out about his father's case.

Of course, I never knew Howard Percy, but just from reading the news articles about this case it is clear to me that he was a brave man.

There wouldn't be many people who, after being tied up in a robbery, would return to the same place and carry on working.

Mr Percy had some steel. Not only was he back on the job but, when an armed robber struck again, he took him on.

It was a courageous but dangerous act.

It seems amazing to me that such a violent crime has gone unsolved.

It was reported as Rotorua's first bank robbery and Rotorua is not exactly a big city. People must have known something about the killer.

Even today, there must be people who know who shot Mr Percy. For nearly 36 years, they have kept their awful secret and somehow it has not leaked to the police.

But nearly 36 years is a long time. Criminals can grow a conscience. People change allegiances. Time changes people.

At yesterday's press conference, a clearly upset Ross Percy struggled to hide the bitterness at losing his father. He says there will be satisfaction in catching the offender.

No one can blame him for feeling like this.

The Percy family deserves justice and closure.

This case must be solved.

The people who hold the clues need to come forward and do the right thing.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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