Hitchhiker attack and supermarket body linked
BLAIR ENSOR, NICOLE MATTHEWSON AND DEIDRE MUSSEN
Two hitchhikers seriously injured in an attack on the West Coast have been flown to Christchurch Hospital, as police probe the homicide of a woman found stuffed in the boot of her car.
Meanwhile, a man arrested over the violent attack yesterday afternoon is himself being treated for injuries, including dog bites, and police were asking the public to help them pin down the movements of two vehicles.
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The 38-year-old man was arrested about 3am today after a 90-minute chase and a five-hour stand-off near Franz Joseph - during which the man doused himself, his vehicle and the road with petrol and threw things out the window that he had lit on fire.
The standoff - resolved when police fired rounds similar to rubber bullets and let loose a police dog - left locals shocked.
''All I know is it seemed more like Los Angeles that Franz Josef yesterday because there were cars whizzing through and sirens," said Glacier Country Tourism Group deputy chairman Wayne Costello.
Detectives investigating the Christchurch homicide have travelled to the West Coast to interview the man.
The hitchikers, a 28-year-old German woman and a 27-year-old woman of Japanese origin, had been picked up while hitchhiking at Whataroa earlier in the afternoon.
One woman had life-threatening three stab wounds to her neck and the other had pelvic injuries which were believed to have happened as she escaped the vehicle.
Witness Sue Hocken told the Otago Daily Times she was driving through Franz Josef yesterday when she saw two women being "bounced" out of a truck. She rushed to their aid and said they were in "major pain".
"It was pretty horrendous . . . they weren't moving; they were just making noises."
A Nelson man, who did not want to be named, said he met the travellers two weeks ago and was in contact with them in hospital today.
They told him they ''were still in shock and scared.''
"They are both really similar, outgoing, sweet people with a love of travel. They are trusting and honest but not naive,'' the man said.
Police started a search for the blue Nissan Terrano the women had been picked up in, using all available staff, roadblocks, a helicopter and a plane.
The vehicle was spotted at 8.30pm by police south of Fox Glacier but took off, with police pursuing. The driver came across a roadblock at Paringa and turned and headed north again, police said.
Another roadblock was set up at Karangarua River, 25 kilometres south of Fox Glacier, to prevent the driver entering the town. The driver stopped, 90 minutes after the chase started.
Armed police surrounded the vehicle and began negotiating with the man, while armed offenders squad members were flown from Tasman, Dunedin and Christchurch to help.
"He was throwing things out the window that he had set alight," Chambers said.
The man had also doused himself in petrol, as well as his vehicle and the road around him, and was carrying a lighter.
The standoff lasted more than five hours before police used "sponge rounds", similar to rubber bullets, and deployed a police dog to overpower the man.
He was finally arrested about 3am.
WOMEN TO HOSPITAL
A Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokesman said an airplane had just landed at Greymouth to transport the tourists to Christchurch.
The women would be accompanied by a doctor and nurse team from Christchurch Hospital. They were both in a stable condition.
Relatives of the women were now making their way to Christchurch, he said.
Police were appealing for sightings of the dark-coloured Nissan Terrano, registration WR4174, the man had been driving on the road between Christchurch and the West Coast, but also around Woolston.
They are also seeking information on movement of Farrall's white Toyota Carolla, registration number WR2685, between 9 and 10 am Saturday. It was in the vicinity of Wildberry Street and Ferry Road through to where it was eventually located at New World in St Johns St, Woolston.
An autopsy on the body of Farrall was underway in Christchurch this afternoon but no details of her injuries had yet been released.
No charges have yet been laid against the man, originally from the lower North Island.
Detective Senior Sergeant Darryl Sweeney said the man had received injuries during his arrest, including dog bites. He was being treated on the West Coast but could be transferred to Christchurch Hospital.
Tasman District Commander Superintendent Richard Chambers visited the two West Coast victims this morning. "Naturally they are very relieved to know we have apprehended this man.
"However, they are still extremely traumatised and upset after what they have been through."
Police were providing the women with as much support as possible, including Victim Support and liasing with families and embassies.
The women would be formally interviewed once their conditions had improved, Chambers said.
Police confirmed this morning that Farrall knew the man arrested on the West Coast.
Fitzgerald said Farrall was reported missing on Saturday afternoon by an acquaintance.
Inquiries led to the discovery of her car in the car park of the New World Woolston supermarket. Her body was found in the boot of the car, Fitzgerald said.
The vehicle had since been removed from the car park and would be forensically examined today.
Friends of Farrall took to social media to express their shock and grief.
Her partner wrote that Farrall was his "beautiful soul mate".
"I love you with all my heart. I know your watching over me and will always be by my side. Fly high and be happy and smile down on us," he said.
A relative at Farrall's family home in Halswell said the family were "completely devastated". They declined to speak further this morning, but said the family would be making a public statement through police later today.
- Fairfax Media