Story: Violent crime

William Bell

William Bell was sentenced to 33 years' imprisonment without parole for his part in the killing of Wayne Johnson, Mary Hobson and Bill Absolum in December 2001 at the Mt Wellington–Panmure RSA. It was the longest sentence ever handed down by a New Zealand judge – Bell will spend most of his adult life in prison. In court to witness his sentencing was Susan Couch, who nearly lost her life in the attack. After a night consuming alcohol and drugs, Bell arrived at the RSA clubrooms with an accomplice, Darnell Tupe, intending to steal the takings from the night before. Only four months before he had worked as a barman at the clubrooms as part of a work-experience programme. Bell shot Johnson and brutally beat his other victims. He was on parole at the time of the murders, and had accumulated 102 convictions before committing this crime.

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How to cite this page:

Greg Newbold, 'Violent crime - Murder and manslaughter', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 October 2022)

Story by Greg Newbold, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 18 Mar 2019