Jury finds man guilty of 2002 murder

Quick with a knife, adept at kneecapping, a dab hand at jail breaks, Stephen Thomas Hudson can now add murderer to his blood-stained CV.

Hudson, 39, was today found guilty in the High Court at Wellington of the March 2002 murder of Nicholas Pike.

Hudson was remanded in custody and will be sentenced some time in the New Year, Justice Ronald Young said.

Mr Pike, 22, had not been seen since he went into isolated country off the Desert Rd with Hudson, who was his boss in the drugs trade.

His body was never found.

At the time, Hudson was on the run from the police for a violent attack and drug offences. He was arrested two months later.

Hudson's history of serious violence can now be revealed.

He is in jail, serving 12 years in jail for a December 2001 stabbing, and firearms offences.

He liked to invite those who crossed him into the wilderness, or down an isolated back road, as Mr Pike and a man who slept with his girlfriend discovered.

Daniel Cook, 23, at the time of the November 2001 attack, was not keen to go to a Tutaki Rd rendezvous, on the northern outskirts of Palmerston North.

Hudson's girlfriend lured him to the address, where Hudson was waiting with a hammer, a cohort and a bad temper.

Mr Cook tried to drive off, but was hit about the head "a couple of times" and grabbed by the throat.

He was hit in the back of the head, then Hudson began hammering his kneecaps. After his attackers said they would shoot him if he told police, Mr Cook managed to start his car and escape.

He went to Palmerston North Hospital, where he was treated for injuries to his head, hands, knees and shoulders. He also had two teeth removed.

His High Court trial heard accounts of Hudson's activities from about 70 witnesses, including players in the provincial drug trade and convicted murderers.

Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk told the High Court trial Hudson "stands apart because he is capable of grievous violence".

"He is brazen. He is bold. He manages to evade capture."

While having a special talent for violent misdeeds , Hudson was also good at escaping, and staying at large.

Soon after knocking Mr Cook about, Hudson spent five months on the run from police, who wanted him in connection with a stabbing and drug offences.

While police were hunting for him, he found time to kill Mr Pike.

He was recaptured in Tauranga, after a large part of the central city was cordoned off and an armed offenders squad marksman in a helicopter cruised the neighbourhood.

Hudson did not try to use a .357 calibre pistol in his possession. A large amount of cannabis was seized.

He was fearless. Once, when found the armed offenders' squad outside , he rang police, said who he was, and demanded to know "what are you f...ing pigs doing at my house?"

Constable Robert Hutton, who was in charge of the related search warrant and answered the phone, said the caller identified himself as "Stephen f...ing Hudson".

The search warrant was initially for items related to a burglary, but early in the search, drug items and ammunition was found.

While awaiting trial, Hudson escaped from Manawatu Prison at Linton with cellmate Michael Paul McKegg, cutting through a window frame with a hacksaw blade, then using blankets to cover a razor-wire fence.

McKegg turned himself in at the prison after 26 days on the run. Hudson, due to face an attempted murder charge, was re-captured in Tauranga six days later.

He was handcuffed and flanked by two female police officers when he appeared in court to face two drugs charges and a charge of escaping from custody.

He pleaded guilty to all three charges.

Now Hudson is set for an even longer stint in jail. If it can hold him.

- NZPA

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