Skip to main content

Bassett Road machine-gun murders

7 December 1963

Ron Jorgensen
Ron Jorgensen (left) and John Gillies during their trial, 1964 (YouTube)

The bullet-riddled bodies of Frederick George Walker and Kevin James Speight were found in a house on Bassett Rd in Remuera, Auckland. A team of 32 detectives began enquiries that led to the arrest of Ron Jorgensen and John Gillies.

The fact that the victims were sly-groggers – traders in illegal alcohol – seemed to be a motive for the murders. The Coroner concluded that the murder weapon was probably a .45-calibre machine gun.

On New Year’s Eve, police arrested Jorgensen and Gillies, career criminals who had spent time in prison on both sides of the Tasman. Their trial began on 24 February 1964. Both denied the charges, although Gillies admitted he had purchased a machine gun. They were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Jorgensen came to public attention again in 1984, following his release from prison, when his abandoned car was found at the bottom of a cliff near Kaikōura. Despite rumours he had faked his own death and fled to Australia, he was declared dead in 1998.

How to cite this page

Bassett Road machine-gun murders, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated