Queenstown ‘kidnapping victim’ found

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A 22-year-old Queenstown man who was allegedly kidnapped on Tuesday night has been found.

Police located Joseph Armstrong just before midnight on Sunday.

He was injured and required medical attention, but it is unknown whether he was taken to hospital.

It’s understood police located Armstrong at a camping ground in Queenstown, however, police were keeping quiet on the details of his return to safety.

They would not comment further last night on his condition.

Three officers in bulletproof vests were seen leaving the Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park just before midnight.

The hunt for two of his alleged kidnappers, Pita Wilson, 38, and Joshua Veint, 23, is continuing and police are investigating whether the pair had access to firearms.

”The risk assessment is ongoing in regards to this investigation and that includes access to firearms,” Relieving Otago rural area commander Inspector Olaf Jensen said yesterday afternoon.

Following the news Armstrong was located, friends took to social media to express their relief.

”Joseph Armstrong my bro its good to hear you are okay !! holy s*** i havent felt that relieved in ages hit me up if you need anything at all cuz glad to hear you are home safe,” one friend posted.

Another posted: ”OMG so much relief.”

The former Wakatipu High School pupil is understood to originally hail from Newcastle, England.

Joshua Veint’s father says his son did not have firearms.

Glenorchy Ban 1080 campaigner James Veint says he believed there would be a peaceful resolution to the police search for his son.

”They haven’t got firearms,” Veint said.

”I don’t know why it’s so big. They all know each other.”

He adds: ”Josh and them aren’t armed or anything.

”I’ve got faith in the police. It’s not like in America, with the incidents over there. They’ll be alright.”

Veint says he sent a text message to his son – who works with Wilson – telling him to ”go and see the police”, but otherwise doesn’t know anything about the incident.

”I can’t find out anything, I can’t speak to them and the police haven’t said anything,” he said.

”I’ve been away so haven’t heard the local gossip.”

Two arrests

At the weekend police in relation to the alleged kidnapping of Armstrong.

A 17-year-old man of no fixed abode has been charged with kidnapping. He will appear in the Queenstown District Court today.

A 36-year-old Queenstown man was arrested in Invercargill on Saturday evening and has been charged with being an accessory after the fact to injuring. He has been released on bail.

Jensen says police believed Wilson and Veint had left the Queenstown area. The police efforts are now understood to be focused on Invercargill.

Jensen says police visited properties along Frankton Road yesterday.

Joseph’s father Brian Armstrong flew into Queenstown from Hamilton on Saturday evening and was met by police at the airport. Armstrong, who used to own Shades of Arrowtown Motel, did not want to comment on the ongoing case.

About 7 o’clock last night a post appeared on Armstrong’s Facebook page claiming the kidnapping was based on lies and a hoax.

”Greeing everyone i need to tell you, that we have lied about the allelged kidnapping,” the post read.

”pitta wilson, josh vient, juniour dan ur.familes and .police that.we have.destroyed and will repay everything that.we have.robbed.u of it.all. ashley,me,billy,kc andandrew deserve whaever is thrown at us. we are sincerly sorry the bother we hav caused to you all theres more to come.”

The post was met with astonishment and incredulity by Armstrong’s Facebook friends.

”This doesn’t seem legit,” one friend replied.

Jensen said police were investigating why the alleged kidnapping had taken place, although he would not be drawn on specific lines of inquiry.

Two other people were involved in the alleged kidnapping at a Queenstown address on Tuesday but had been released earlier last week.

Yesterday, police located two vehicles they were seeking to do with the incident. A white Toyota Hilux with ”A1 Auto Electrics” sign-written on it was found in Invercargill and a white Suzuki saloon was found in Queenstown.

Armed Offenders Squad members on Friday night, entering the property using flash bangs and with guns raised.

Armed officers remained at the Frankton Rd property and at Bridgestone Tyres on Industrial Place until yesterday morning. They were replaced by uniformed officers, before they too left yesterday afternoon.

Any person with information on the whereabouts of these men should contact Queenstown police on (03) 441-1600 or, to provide information anonymously, Crime Stoppers on 0800-555-111.

Additional reporting Tim Brown, Otago Daily Times