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Police lose siege suppression fight

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/07/2016

Four policemen have been shot after an incident on Onepu Springs Road, following what was believed to be a drug search, Kawerau © SNPA / Cameron Avery Four policemen have been shot after an incident on Onepu Springs Road, following what was believed to be a drug search, Kawerau Police have failed to keep secret the names of officers shot and wounded in an armed siege in the Bay of Plenty earlier this year.

A High Court judge says police haven't provided enough evidence to show naming the officers would adversely affect them after the stand off in Onepu in March.

Police were trying to keep secret the names of five officers in total.

Constable Regan Mauheni, Constable Damian White, Constable Andrew Flinn and Sergeant Logan Marsh are recovering from various wounds while Constable John Ure was also caught up in the shootings.

They were involved in the gunfight which took place after a cannabis-spotting plane was shot at north of Kawerau.

Rhys Warren, 27, has since been charged with attempted murder and using a firearm against police. The officers were initially granted interim name suppression by the District Court.

However, that was challenged by media companies Fairfax Media and NZME.

Earlier this month, lawyers for police argued naming the officers would affect their ability to do their jobs, harm their recovery and expose their children to comments from the community.

They also argued criminals could try to use the knowledge against them.

However, Justice Timothy Brewer says that while the officers' concerns are genuinely held there was no medical or psychological reports to back them up, or evidence criminals would use the incident against them.

"While I have every sympathy for the complainants, I cannot find that increased news media attention would be likely to cause them undue hardship."

Their names would come out on the first day of the trial and there was no suggestion permanent name suppression was justified.

Justice Brewer was also worried about the precedent continued suppression would set.

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