Incredible twists in body case
A man and a woman charged with abduction as part of a police investigation into the death of an 18-year-old Tauranga woman were granted name suppression at a brief appearance in court this afternoon.
The 30-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, who wore police-issue overalls in the dock, were granted the interim name suppression by Judge Graham Hubble.
The pair are jointly charged with aggravated robbery, kidnap, injuring with intent and stealing a car, and will appear again at the Tauranga District Court on Friday.
SERIES OF OFFENCES
The events that led up to the death of the Tauranga woman offer some mystery with police suggesting she may have been run over by a motorist who was then abducted.
The 18-year-old woman's body was found outside Pohlen Hospital in Matamata about 4am. Police forensic staff were at the scene this morning.
Police said this afternoon that staff in three districts - Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Auckland - were working to piece together the extraordinary series of events.
They believed the problems began at 3am when a 32-year-old Tauranga man driving his silver Toyota Prado over State Highway 29 (the Kaimai Ranges) hit a person on the road.
He stopped immediately but was then pulled from his vehicle and assaulted before being put back into his car and abducted.
At one point the vehicle stopped and he managed to escape and raise the alarm. He required hospital treatment for head injuries but has since been released.
At 4am security staff discovered the dead woman’s body outside the hospital. Soon after, at 4.30am, Auckland police contacted Bay of Plenty staff to report that the silver Toyota Prado had been recovered in the Papakura area and they had arrested a man and a woman for unlawfully being on a property.
Police had also recovered a silver Nissan Wingroad stationwagon at the scene of the abduction, which was stolen from Tauranga Hospital yesterday and appears to have broken down.
Detective Senior Sergeant Lew Warner said there was a lot of work to do and an autopsy was needed to establish exactly when and how the woman found in Matamata died.
"However, at this stage we are working on the belief that a chain of events began when the stolen stationwagon broke down or ran out of petrol in the Kaimai Ranges leaving the offenders stranded.
"The woman has a number of injuries and we need to wait until the conclusion of the post mortem before we can establish definitively whether she was the person who was struck by the Toyota on SH29."
Police wanted to hear from anyone travelling between Tauranga, Matamata and Auckland who saw the silver Toyota Prado. They were also interested in the movements of the silver Nissan stationwagon.
The abduction victim had told them that two truck and trailer units passed when he was on SH29 and he tried to wave them down. Anyone with information is asked to contact Tauranga police on (07) 577 4300. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Police were in contact with the dead woman's family but no name would be issued until formal identification processes had been completed.
NEIGHBOURS HEARD ARGUING
Neighbours across the road from the hospital said they were woken up by arguing and a car taking off early in the morning but thought nothing of it.
The woman's body remained in the hospital car park this morning, covered by a blue sheet.
Her shirt was ripped open and her clothing torn.
Pohlen Hospital chief executive Anton Turner would not comment on the police case but said staff were working when the body was found.
He said staff were being offered support and, despite the car park and main entrance being inside a police cordon, the hospital was operating as usual.