The man who opened fire at a downtown Auckland construction site, killing two people and injuring a police officer, was on home detention for kicking and strangling a woman, leaving her with a broken bone in her neck.
Court documents obtained by the Herald after the shooting on Thursday also show the violent 2021 offending for which Matu Reid was serving a sentence of home detention took place when he was subject to an earlier community-based sentence for an assault in 2020.
Reid, 24, died after exchanging gunfire with police at the construction site where he had approval to work as part of his sentence.
He had earlier killed two people after walking on to the site shortly after 7am with a pump-action shotgun, and injured a police officer and several more civilians.
At the time, he was serving a sentence of five months’ home detention delivered in the Auckland District Court on March 28 after he admitted charges of impeding breathing, injuring with intent to injure, wilful damage and male assaults female. Strangulation carries a maximum term of imprisonment of seven years.
The sentencing notes of Judge Stephen Bonnar KC show a probation officer assessed Reid as being at a low risk of reoffending. The probation officer recommended home detention as a suitable sentence.
Corrections chief probation officer is now carrying out an internal review.
Judge Bonnar’s sentencing notes chart the details of the violent attack on September 16, 2021, for which Reid was charged.
He was boarding at a property on the North Shore, along with the parents of his victim, who also stayed there a few nights a week. Reid and his victim were in an intimate relationship at the time.
Shortly before midnight, something said by the woman, whose name is suppressed, triggered anger in Reid, Judge Bonnar said.
They argued and he pushed the woman off the chair.
When she tried to speak to him, Reid verbally abused her and then threw an object at her head, hitting her in the right eye. He threatened to “take out” his partner and the rest of the family.
He then kicked her in the stomach and sent her flying backwards on to the bed, at which point Reid stood over her and seized her throat for about 10 seconds. She was unable to breathe.
Reid relinquished his grip but continued to verbally abuse her before slapping and punching her.
He then said to her words to the effect of ‘you don’t know what I’m capable of’.
Reid grabbed a pair of scissors and pushed the handle into the woman’s side before swinging a bottle of wine at her.
He then said “I’ve had enough, it’s time, I’m going to take you all” and stormed out of the room.
The woman fled and phoned police. When she returned with officers, she went into her bedroom and found he had set a small fire in a wicker washing basket, where he had burned paper.
Judge Bonnar said that as a result of the incident the victim suffered a swollen and black eye, bruising on her jaw, scratches on her face, throat and left arm and a fracture in a bone of her neck as a result of Reid strangling her.
When interviewed by police, Reid denied any wrongdoing and claimed the woman’s injuries arose during “rough sex”, Judge Bonnar said.
In a victim impact statement, the woman forgave Reid in what the judge described as a “generous expression of goodwill”.
He had one previous offence, for an assault in 2020. He was serving a sentence of supervision at the time of the 2021 violence.
A cultural report prepared for the court described a history of systemic deprivation, exposure to domestic violence and physical abuse. He described having to run away from home at an early age.
Reid had previously been required to undertake anger management measures.
“There is no excuse for what you did, but I can take into account those background features when I come to decide what is the appropriate sentence for you,” Judge Bonnar said.
The Crown sought a starting point of two years and three months in prison on the strangulation charge, with an uplift of eight months for all other charges.
The judge landed on a starting point of three years in jail before applying a discount of 25 per cent for his guilty plea and another nine months for his background factors, youth and expressions of remorse.
That took him to an end sentence of 20 months in prison, under the 24-month threshold where home detention becomes an available alternative for judges.
“I do not want to send a young man like you, with a limited history, to prison,” Judge Bonnar said.
“I think that could be counter-productive and actually set you down the wrong path.”
Usually, a 20-month prison sentence translates to 10 months of home detention because of the automatic parole after half a sentence for short terms of imprisonment.
But he reduced the sentence by a further five months to take into account the time he had already spent in custody.
He was sentenced to five months’ home detention to be served at a Flat Bush property, with conditions for Reid to attend a non-violence programme, not use alcohol or drugs and not associate with the victim.
Acting National Commissioner of Corrections Sean Mason said an internal review would be undertaken by the Chief Probation Officer.
“While our full review is yet to be undertaken, initial information suggests that Community Corrections staff managed his compliance with these conditions closely,” Mason said.
“He was in frequent contact with staff, and was required to report in to his Probation Officer twice every 10 days. He had last reported in yesterday.”
He had the approval to leave home to attend work, including on Thursday morning, Mason said.
“He had completed an alcohol and other drug programme, and had been drug tested twice during his sentence, with negative results on both occasions. He was also actively engaged in a non-violence programme.”
George Block is an Auckland-based reporter with a focus on police, the courts, prisons and defence. He joined the Herald in 2022 and has previously worked at Stuff in Auckland and the Otago Daily Times in Dunedin.
Sam Sherwood is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers crime. He is a senior journalist who joined the Herald in 2022, and has worked as a journalist for 10 years.