Family still grieving 20 years on


Add a comment
Liz Crean holds a photograph of her son Christopher. PHOTO: ILONA HANNE
Liz Crean holds a photograph of her son Christopher. PHOTO: ILONA HANNE

One of the men who murdered father-of-four Christopher Crean 20 years ago goes before the Parole Board next month in a bid for release from prison.

Meanwhile, Mr Crean's family say they are serving a life sentence and have suffered through relationship breakups, suicides and mental health issues that they blame on the loss.

Mr Crean was shot at his New Plymouth home by Black Power members in October 1996.

He was set to be a crown witness in a police case against the gang and they wanted him silenced, finally killing him after two unsuccessful execution attempts.

Mr Crean was a devout Christian who, despite warnings from the gang and police, refused to retract his testimony. He was married with three children and was expecting another at the time of his death.

Brownie Mane, Robert Shane Maru, Symon George Manihera and Denis Luke were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1997.

Mane, who admitted ordering the hit, was released last year. Manihera was released this year and Maru - who police say was the shooter - has waived his right to parole until September next year. Luke will go before the board next month.

Despite two decades passing since he died, his family are still struggling with the loss of Mr Crean. His mother, Liz, lives in Opunake with her younger son, Robert. Their well-kept home is dotted with family pictures, including a striking photo of Chris holding his Bible.

Mr Crean's father, Mike, died a few years ago, having worked relentlessly to keep his son's killers behind bars.

His brother, Steven, took his own life in police cells in Australia. His son, Thomas, took his life not long after. Mr Crean's daughter spent more than two years in a mental health facility.

Liz Crean said she had no idea of her son's connection to the gang or the court case. After she found out he had been shot she went to the hospital, but did not make it in time.

"I found a male nurse who had cared for Chris - he called me and shared his story of what happened," Mrs Crean recalled.

"Chris had given our names but couldn't remember the street or phone number ... it was shock. He did mention he was looking forward to becoming a father again."

Mr Crean's wife, Tania, moved away soon after her husband's death. An email was sent on her behalf to the Creans' family spokesman, saying she wished to leave the memory of her husband's murder behind and did not want to be part of any parole hearings or media coverage.

Mr Crean's family would like to see his killers stay in prison forever, but they accept their release is inevitable. They have tried many times to get the Parole Board to ban the men from the Taranaki area where they live.

"The hearing is a hearing to consider parole," a Parole Board spokesman said.

"If the board decides an offender no longer presents an undue risk to the community they can be released.

"As part of any parole release the board considers conditions imposed on the offender very carefully and spends time on these. Community Corrections (Probation) manage and oversee conditions and issues like accommodation, work, and travel require permission. Travel where it requires approval in the condition needs to be specific, in terms of timing and location and is monitored by Corrections."

Mrs Crean said having a condition in place preventing her son's killers from coming near their homes and lives would bring closure.

"Why should they come home when Chris can't?"

- Stratford Press

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 Oct 2016 17:59:39 Processing Time: 587ms