Suppression lifts in gang shooting case

Police and prison authorities say safety issues can be managed for a 25-year-old man charged with the murder of a King Cobras gang member, and the alleged shooter’s name suppression was lifted today.

Justice Gerald Nation lifted the suppression order on Alistair Cochrane, a Hei Hei process worker, at a pre-trial call-over in the High Court at Christchurch.

Cochrane has had name suppression since his arrest and first appearance in the District Court in October because of “security concerns”.

The order has been continued at repeated High Court appearances but it was reviewed by Justice Nation at a call-over today when Cochrane was further remanded in custody for a further appearance by video-link from the prison on May 2.

Defence counsel James Rapley QC told the court he had asked police and prison authorities for an update on the security situation for Cochrane and he had been told that they believed the risks could now be managed.

Justice Nation then lifted the suppression order on his name but continued the suppression that prevents any publication of photographs of Cochrane.

Until today, media were also barred from reporting the reason for the name suppression being granted, but Justice Nation also lifted that order.

Cochrane denies murdering King Cobras gang member Luke Sears, 28, also known as Luke Riddell, who was allegedly shotgunned to death in an incident at Charing Cross, rural Canterbury.

He was shot about 3.30pm on October 13. Another man who was at the scene at the time of the alleged shooting has admitted firearms and drugs charges and is in custody awaiting sentencing in April.

Violence erupted in the District Court when that man, Daniel Gary French, pleaded guilty in November, with gang members surging forward and trying to attack him as he stood in the dock.

The murder trial for Cochrane is scheduled to begin on February 24, 2010, and is expected to last three weeks.