Stolen police pistols involved in Wallace shooting
LYN HUMPHREYS AND LEIGHTON KEITH
The two police Glock pistols stolen from the New Plymouth courthouse were involved in the police shooting of Steven Wallace at Waitara 14 years ago, it has been confirmed.
The theft is under investigation by the Taranaki CIB.
"To avoid any further speculation, the firearms that were reported stolen from the New Plymouth District Court are related to the investigation into the shooting of Steven Wallace in 2000," a police spokeswoman said in a media release yesterday.
"They were two police-issue Glock pistols," she said.
The statement was released in response to yesterday's Taranaki Daily News which broke the story.
Police were unaware the pistols were missing until one of them was found in the possession of a man arrested on methamphetamine charges last year.
That person has been charged with unlawful possession of the firearm.
The police spokeswoman said the Glocks were the responsibility of the courts at the time.
The Ministry of Justice said yesterday security had been beefed up since the thefts were discovered.
Following the revelations, police have now called for anyone with knowledge of the thefts or the whereabouts of the second firearm to contact them.
The police also confirmed they have been in contact with Steven Wallace's mother to alert her of the theft.
Raewyn Wallace, of Waitara, said news the guns had been stolen came as no surprise when she was told of the theft three weeks ago.
She said she had planned to have another ballistic test of the Glocks.
"I'm concerned that the guns were taken to prevent that testing and it would prove who shot Steven in the back."
Wallace said the theft of the guns was just another example of how badly the case had been handled right from the start.
She said the investigation was not over and the family has been preparing to take action against police for Steven's right to life.
The police said this week they launched an investigation after becoming aware of the theft in June last year. But no one noticed their disappearance until a Taumarunui man, in his 50s, was arrested in the middle of last year during what is thought to have been a methamphetamine sting.
Yesterday the Hamilton court was unable to confirm any details of the case until next week because their computers were being upgraded.
Yesterday district courts general manager Tony Fisher responded to further questioning about the security in New Zealand's courthouses in the storing of firearms and weapons.
"The safe custody of exhibits is of the utmost importance to the integrity of our court processes," Fisher said.
"The discovery that the two firearms were missing prompted the ministry to undertake a security review of its exhibit rooms and tighten procedures around the custody of exhibits.
"There are very few firearms held in the courts and they are held safely. We know where they are located and who has access to them," Fisher said.
The discovery prompted the ministry to undertake a stocktake of all firearms held in exhibit rooms in courthouses throughout New Zealand. With the exception of these firearms, all others were accounted for, he said.
The ministers of courts and police had been informed of the thefts, and any action which followed were operational issues for the Ministry of Justice, Fisher said.
- Taranaki Daily News