Kidnap accused appears in court
NARELLE HENSON, BELINDA FEEK AND MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
A friend of a Rotorua woman dragged for a kilometre behind a vehicle on a highway north of Tokoroa, has described the incident as "pure evil".
Ana Eriepa, a 37-year-old Rotorua mother of 10, was dragged over rough asphalt between Putaruru and Tokoroa after allegedly being kidnapped on Saturday.
Sonny Te Aramoana Waiti, 26, made a brief appearance in the Rotorua District Court this morning on a charge of kidnapping and was remanded in custody.
An application by Waiti's lawyer for name suppression was declined by Judge James Weir but an application for interim suppression of the summary of facts was granted.
Friends and relatives of Eriepa have reacted with shock to the incident.
Waka Dickinson has known Eriepa for just over a year and described her as "a neat person".
"This is just evil, pure evil what happened to her," he said.
Dickinson, who is from Taumarunui, met Eriepa through family and said he felt sick when he discovered through social media what happened to her.
He believed Eriepa had recently been involved with a Mongrel Mob member.
Eriepa's great-aunt Anne Eriepa Toki said she was saddened to hear news of the incident.
"I understand [Ana] is going to be OK but it's going to a long road to recovery," she said.
The Paraparaumu woman was planning to meet other Wellington-based family members to discuss the incident and any support they could offer.
"I haven't seen Ana since she lived in Auckland but I can tell you I was really shocked to hear the news," she said.
Eriepa Toki said Waikato-based family had been keeping her updated with Ana's progress.
Hamilton woman Turaki Eriepa, who said she was Eriepa's aunt, said she was also shocked to learn of the incident.
"I heard about it on the six o'clock news and couldn't quite believe it," she said.
Witnesses to Saturday's incident said Eriepa appeared to be trying to get out of the boot of the car, which was travelling about 100 kilometres an hour, when her feet got caught.
They described the horrific scene with her body "like a dummy bouncing up and down" and said the asphalt was smeared with blood.
Yesterday Eriepa was moved from Waikato Hospital's critical care unit to the high dependency unit, where she was last night in a stable condition.
Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner said there were "a number of heroic attempts by members of the public to get the car to stop, without success".
The woman eventually fell free, while the car, a dark Subaru sedan, sped off.
She was barely conscious when the emergency services arrived.
A tractor driver stopped her from being hit by other cars by blocking the road with his vehicle.
Hamilton Westpac rescue helicopter pilot Dan Harcourt said it was one of the worst sights he'd seen in his 10 years in the service.
"There was a fair amount of blood on the road at the scene around the patient, and also in my helicopter at the end of it," Harcourt said.
"They are saying she was dragged along the road, and that looks to be the case because of the injury to her lower legs."
It is believed Eriepa got into the car with the driver on Saturday in Rotorua and went to Tokoroa, then on to Putaruru.
*The original version of this story described Eriepa as a mother of three. However, it is now understood she is a mother of 10.
- Waikato Times