Suspect breaks feet during chase

A man suspected of stealing jewellery from a central Wellington shop leapt off a railway bridge in his efforts to avoid capture.

The man broke both feet in the five- metre jump at Porirua station, but continued to run from police dogs that were chasing him down the railway tracks.

He was charged yesterday in relation to the jewellery theft and for brandishing a pistol that turned out to be a toy one.

He was unable to appear in court because he was in Wellington Hospital.

The man is accused of snatching the gold jewellery, worth about $10,000, in front of an off-duty policewoman at the Walker & Hall store in upper Lambton Quay about 5pm on Monday.

Superintendent Sandra Manderson, a judo black belt, chased him to his car but backed off when he allegedly produced a gun. Police said the thief escaped with the jewels and the gun - which it emerged was actually an imitation pistol, according to court documents.

The chase that led to the suspect's arrest began after he was spotted by a petrol station attendant who recognised a police description of a car. When the car pulled into the Mobil station at Paremata late on Tuesday night, the overnight attendant rang police.

Officers arrived but, when the man failed to stop, six to seven police cars began tailing him as he sped away towards Porirua. Road spikes were used to stop the car, and the man continued on foot with two dogs giving chase.

Officers lost sight of him briefly but were led to the Porirua station platform by the dogs, which caught the man running down the tracks.

While the man did not appear injured, and walked to the police car, Detective Senior Sergeant Warwick McKee said later that the man broke his heels when leaping off the overbridge.

Graham Phillip Aspinall, 24, of Paraparaumu Beach, has been charged with using an imitation firearm with intent to prevent his lawful arrest, and with stealing jewellery.

The Dominion Post