Overdose kills man

By Kathryn Powley

Dad with victim when emergency services arrive at notorious apartment block.

Israel Hart is believed to have died after taking heroin.
Israel Hart is believed to have died after taking heroin.

Family are grieving over the death of a young man who overdosed in the crime-riddled apartment block where his dad lives.

Police are investigating the death of Israel "Izzy" Hart, found unconscious with his father when emergency services arrived.

The 21-year-old man injected what is thought to have been a cocktail of heroin and other drugs on November 14, lost consciousness in Housing NZ's Greys Ave apartments, and died a day later in Auckland City Hospital.

He would have turned 22 this Thursday.

His father, Richard Hart, 48, is a resident of the multi-storey apartment block, a frequent troublespot for police.

Last year Israel voiced his concerns about safety at the block of 87 flats, commenting online about a Herald story headlined "Greys Ave tenants live in fear of gangs".

Referring to an earlier violent experience he wrote he was smacked in the head in the elevator and "stood over couple times while trying to mind my own bizzy".

Housing NZ says it has been reviewing the building's future, even before this week's tragedy.

Israel's mother, Levonne Scott of Bethells Beach, declined to comment. It's understood she and Israel's father separated many years ago, and Israel had only connected with his father in his teens.

But writing on her Facebook page, Scott said: "Goodbye my love, you are at peace now, no more pain or struggles, I love you more than you will ever know, fly with the angels my boy xxx."

Auckland Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty confirmed detectives were investigating Hart's death. "The coroner will rule on the cause of his death but I can confirm he had ingested illicit drugs - which are still to be identified - prior to his death."

Several sources have told the Herald on Sunday the drug was heroin, and that he was with his father when emergency services arrived.

Hegarty said police were in regular contact with witnesses, the investigation was continuing and the exact circumstances could not be disclosed at this stage.

St John's Ambulance Northern team manager Noreen Jones said a crew responded to a 111 call about the cardiac arrest of a 21-year-old male at 8pm on November 13. "He was critical," she said.

Neighbour Joe Li-Wah, 48, has lived in the apartments about 10 years.

Speaking from his ground floor apartment, overlooking a strip of grass littered with bottles, broken glass and empty cans tossed from balconies above, Li-Wah said it was a good location and he felt safe there - even though he narrowly escaped being hit on the head by a falling computer last week. "It just missed me."

The Greys Ave apartment building.
The Greys Ave apartment building.

He sometimes heard screaming, smashing bottles and fighting at night, but said it was mostly secure. "As long as you mind your own business the people will leave you alone, but if you try to get smart they will do something about you."

Housing NZ regional manager Neil Adams said it was very sad that a person had died in the property. "He wasn't a tenant of ours and we can't make any comment because it's before the coroner."

Housing NZ was working hard to improve the safety and security of the apartments at 139 Greys Ave, he added. In November the department opened an office in the building to deal with on-site matters and to provide a close connection to the tenants. "If a tenant's behaviour is serious and ongoing we will terminate the tenancy."

Each time a tenant vacated, their apartment was upgraded.

"The floor layout is really quite good. If you were living in the city and able to modernise the inside of it, I think you'd be quite happy," he said.

Asked when the block would be fully refurbished, he said: "We have been carrying out an assessment since July about what we need to do to it."

- Herald on Sunday

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