Blessie case: Keeping accused's name secret 'unfair'

By Brendan Manning

The sister of Stephen Couch (picture) was bashed and left for dead by William Bell. Photo / NZ Herald
The sister of Stephen Couch (picture) was bashed and left for dead by William Bell. Photo / NZ Herald

The brother of the sole survivor of the 2001 Mt Wellington RSA massacre says suppressing the name of the man charged with Blessie Gotingco's murder isn't fair on the community.

Stephen Couch's sister Susan Couch was bashed and left for dead by William Bell after he murdered William Absolum, Mary Hobson, and Wayne Johnson.

Bell was under Corrections supervision at the time and had gone into the RSA to steal $12,000. He had been released from prison after serving five years for aggravated robbery on conditions being monitored by Corrections, through the Probation Service.

Mr Couch was speaking out after learning the man accused of murdering her was known to authorities.

"People don't feel safe when these sorts of things happen and here we are again, and I don't know who the guy is behind this one, but we're seeing the same thing again, we're seeing a wall being put up so we can't see who this person is.

"We can't see what's going on.

"I didn't ask who it was, I don't want to know... and I think it's time that the courts and the Government caught up with the fact that this should be about public safety, not about one individual's supposed rights.

"Officially, we can't find out what his background is, we can't find out where the system's gone wrong because it does look, at this stage of the game, like there's been another system failure," Mr Couch said."

Mr Couch said he lived close to the house where the man arrested over Blessie's murder was living and said he was concerned for the welfare of his stepdaughter while walking home.

"You should be able to feel to safe in your neighbourhood, and the next thing something like this happens."

- NZ Herald

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