"The Bassett Road Machine Gun Murders"
of 7th December 1963, - was the personal involvement of TWO of our senior National Party Politicians. Both future Prime Minister Robert Muldoon and future Police Minister John Banks were associated with the accused murderers.
This was the era of "the six o'clock swill".. when bars had to close for the day at 6.00 p.m.
John Banks - a teenager at that time - spent two years working with his father in Auckland's illegal 'sly grog' beer-houses - and says that he made a fortune from returning the empty beer bottles and claims to have handled the H&R Reising sub-machine gun later used in the killings
"Someone handed the gun to me and encouraged me to aim into the back of George Courts (On Karangahare Road), but I refrained and handed it back"
A Reising M50 .45"acp Sub-Machine Gun.
"I did not inhale"?
Some researchers still feel that the two sly-grogger victims Kevin Speight & George Walker were shot as a result of the illegal alcohol & drugs sales and gang conflict - but a more recent analysis says that a 'love triangle' involving a seventeen year old girl was the origin of a redirected attack.
The bodies were found by their Remuera 'Grog House' landlord having been shot "several times" & were described in the newspapers as "riddled with bullets" - despite the evidence stating that the (missing, never traced) gun was fired in single shot mode. The Coroner concluded that the murder weapon was likely a .45" caliber machine gun.
Evidence was presented that the 'professional criminals' Ronald Jorgenson & John Gillies - who both denied the murder charges - had been smoking illegal substances before the shooting - and Gillies admitted having bought a "machine gun" and the crime was headlined as a Chicago Style Massacre.
Both the accused were found guilty on rather weak evidence and served their prison time - but there is some mystery as to where they ended-up subsequently - after Jorgensons' empty car was found below a Kaikoura cliff in 1984 in a possibly faked accidental death - as there were several reported sightings of him in Perth Australia.. however Jorgenson was declared dead in 1998.. Gillies' whereabouts is unknown (Wellington?).
Though described as a sub-machine gun, the Harrington & Richardson Reising .45" was actually designed as a compact lightweight semi-automatic carbine, firing from a closed bolt using 12 or 20 round magazines. The M50 was a selective fire weapon, (capable of a fully automatic fire) and uses a 'delayed blow-back' system firing from a closed bolt. They sold during and after the Second World War era for a quarter of the price of the Thompson SMG.
Folding Stock Reising M55.
The Reising served with the US Marines throughout the Pacific area and Guadalcanal - but was not well liked - as they were said to be unreliable in the field unless kept perfectly clean.
The M55 Reising folding stock SMG was used by the US Marines in the Pacific and a good number of them were brought back to NZ by NZ soldiers from the Solomons as they fitted neatly into a kit bag. I have seen several here and owned one for many years. To my knowledge the full-stocked M50 was never used in the Pacific. The US Marines disliked the Reising and literally threw them away when they stopped working (to be picked up by Kiwis of course!). The problem was that the breech block had to tip up into a recess before the hammer could strike the firing pin. As this recess was right by the ejection port it was easily clogged with debris. Kept clean, they were perfectly reliable.