Crime spree included police station arson

Last updated 14:03 05/09/2012

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A day-long crime spree ended with burnt out Subarus, thousands in stolen property and an attempt to burn down the Karori police station.

The trial of three men who allegedly stole Subaru cars to use them in a series of burglaries and smash and grab raids has begun in Wellington District Court.

Stephen Joseph O'Neill, 29, his cousin Lance Patrick O'Neill, 28, and Edwin Eejae Holtham, 24, face 16 charges of burglaries of business, the thefts of several cars and the arson of the Karori police station.

Mother of Stephen, Margaret O'Neill, 52, and Martin Hogan, 45, are no longer facing charges at the trial after legal argument.

Crown prosecutor Jamie Eng said the group had a particular way of operating. They targeted Subaru cars, stealing them to use in the crimes before abandoning them and often setting them alight.

Over one weekend in May last year they stole several cars, using one to smash into a liquor store in Brooklyn where they loaded up one car while abandoning the other, he said.

They broke into Tawa Hardware, Wellington Mowers and Chainsaws, Storage King, Tile Direct and DVT Solutions taking gardening equipment and televisions.

They intended to fence the stolen goods, Mr Eng said.

During the spree the group smashed in a window at the Karori police station and threw in bottles filled with alcohol causing a small amount of damage.

Mr Eng said a DNA match on a burglary from 2008 where a similar method was used in a burglary at Miramar Books and Lotto gave the police Stephen O'Neill's name.  A hose pipe found in a stolen Subaru had the DNA where O'Neill had used it to siphon petrol.

A lot of the stolen gear was found at a relative's house.

They are also charged over the burglary of a Otaki surf shop.

The defence lawyers for the men told the jury that their clients denied being the ones involved.

The trial is expected to take two weeks.

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- The Dominion Post

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