Napier man at centre of police hunt

By Sam Hurley

A Napier man was last night at the centre of a manhunt in Auckland in relation to an alleged abduction of a two-year-old boy from an Auckland home.

Former Napier man, 33-year-old Phillip Layton Edwards, is alleged to have abducted Gabriel Donnelly, 2, from an address in Panmure at about 12.45pm.

Police said they found Gabriel last night unharmed at a Panmure property and he had been reunited with his mother, after they had "grave concerns" for the child earlier in the day.

Police went door to door last night on Coates Crescent, the street where the incident occurred, to interview residents.

Inspector Peter Raynes said police resources were used to track down the child, including a police helicopter which searched the area.

At the time Hawke's Bay Today went to print last night, police were still looking for Edwards.

Edwards, who grew up in Hawke's Bay, was found guilty in 2004 for the manslaughter of celebrity fashion and interior designer David McNee, 55, in Auckland.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison after brutally killing Mr McNee in his Auckland home in July 2003.

Edwards, who was living on the streets of Auckland at the time of Mr McNee's killing, admitted beating him 30-40 times about the head with his fists, wrapping him up in a blanket and then robbing him of clothing, alcohol and his Audi car.

Edwards was convicted of fighting and theft and was sentenced in the Auckland District Court three days before he killed Mr McNee.

In 2005 he lost an appeal against the nine-year prison term for killing Mr McNee and was released on parole in February 2012.

When releasing Edwards, the parole board said: "The psychologist assessed him as posing a high risk of violent reoffending. The release proposal is that he would have mental-health-supported accommodation. That will be important to him."

Edwards killed Mr McNee 11 days after being released from prison in Hawke's Bay. He had been sentenced to 18 months' prison for assaulting a female and his release was standard for a sentence of less than two years.

However, he had been released with conditions, including reporting to a probation officer and living at an address in Auckland, and therefore still subject to a sentence.


- Hawkes Bay Today

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