More charges, arrests likely in ‘kidnap’ case

SHARE

More charges are likely over last week’s alleged kidnapping in Queenstown. 

Otago Rural area commander Inspector Olaf Jensen says the investigation identified drug-dealing activity involving methamphetamine.

In a statement yesterday, Jensen says the investigation is now looking at the ”criminal liability of people who may have helped those involved to avoid arrest”.

The drug activity, involving possession and supply of methamphetamine, would result in further charges – and possibly more arrests.

Joshua Veint, 23, and Pita Wilson, 38 – who were located after a six-day manhunt which captivated the country – were remanded in custody by consent yesterday morning after their arrests on Wednesday.

They didn’t appear in the Queenstown District Court.

Veint is expected to appear in the Invercargill District Court today, while Wilson is due to appear in Invercargill on Tuesday.

A 21-year-old woman has been charged with possessing methamphetamine and a 22-year-old woman with being an accessory after the fact of wounding.

Both are expected to appear in the Queenstown District Court on Monday.

Because matters are before the court, Jensen says police are unable to make further comment on the ”specific events” of the incident and investigation.

He thanks the Queenstown community for its support over the past week, which, along with ”solid police work” led to an outcome which demonstrated ”working together, we can all have a part to play in keeping our community safe”.

The drama began on Friday night when eight armed officers stormed a small house in Frankton Rd about 7pm, using flash bangs.

Other armed offenders squad members, in full tactical gear, raced towards Glenorchy, stopped about 7km from the township and waited by the side of the road.

Police later revealed they had fears for 22-year-old Joseph Armstrong, who they believed had been kidnapped on November 25. They said they wanted to speak to Wilson, Veint and Mark Taylor, 17, about the incident.

On Saturday, police confirmed two other people, who had since been released, were involved in an alleged kidnapping at a Queenstown address on Tuesday evening. Armstrong was believed to be the victim.

Armstrong, Veint, Wilson and Taylor had not been seen since police became aware of that incident on Wednesday night.

On Sunday, police made the first two arrests in the case, charging Mark Junior Taylor, 17, with kidnapping; and a 36-year-old Queenstown man, granted name suppression, with assisting Wilson to avoid arrest.

Just before midnight on Sunday, Armstrong was found at the Lakeview Holiday Park and advised to seek medical treatment. Police declined to release information about the nature of his injuries. The investigation continued, with Jensen making daily pleas for Veint and Wilson to hand themselves in, or to contact police.

Despite at least 20 police staff working on the case, including the armed offenders squad (AOS), dog squads and detectives from across the Southern district, contacting known contacts and visiting various addresses, Veint and Wilson were nowhere to be found.

On Tuesday, Jensen told the media police had concerns for the well-being of Lilly Boden, 21, a friend of Veint’s, who had not been heard from since late last week.

Finally, on Wednesday, the police got the information they were looking for, and travelled in convoy towards Glenorchy about 2.30pm. Within an hour, police announced they had found Veint and Boden, who were ”safe and well”.

Yesterday, Jensen said the pair were found by a police team in a remote hut beside Lake Wakatipu, following information provided by the public.

They arrived at the Queenstown Police Station about 5pm. Soon afterwards, the AOS was on the move again. Two vehicles parked outside an Edinburgh Dr address, with various other marked and unmarked vehicles dotted around Queenstown Hill and Frankton Rd.

About four cars and the command van left the police station about 8.30pm, heading towards Frankton.

In less than an hour, Wilson was apprehended ”without incident” on the Frankton Track, after leaving a Frankton Rd address.

Police southern district communications manager Vivien Pullar said yesterday police would not be available to answer questions about the ongoing investigation and she had ”nothing else to add” to yesterday’s press statement. 

Otago Daily Times