Dozens duck the long arm

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 16/06/2012

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Taranaki people are dodging justice and failing to show up to court in their dozens.

Almost 150 Taranaki people had warrants for their arrest issued in the first four months of this year.

Information released to the Taranaki Daily News under the Official Information Act shows that in April police were trying to arrest 115 people in North Taranaki and 32 people in the south.

Some of the runaways had more than one warrant out for their arrest and others were wanted in relation to offences as serious as aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery.

The people sought either failed to show up to court, breached bail conditions or were suspected of an offence but had not been arrested.

Four of the five most serious offenders were recovered with the help of the public after their mug shots were put on the front page of the Taranaki Daily News last month.

The other main charges faced by those with warrants to arrest were assault, threatening behaviour, dangerous driving, burglary, theft, fraud, illicit drug offences, prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences, property damage and environmental pollution, trespass, traffic offences and breaches of court-imposed orders.

Each of those charges were faced by about five people, but 30 warrants related to drink-driving or drug-driving and 16 were for breaching community service.

Last year there were 597 arrest warrants issued in Taranaki, and as of April, 14 of those were still outstanding, possibly because the people had moved to another part of New Zealand, or because they had fled the country before the warrant to arrest was issued.

A few also may have avoided capture by adopting an alias.

Nationally, about 10,000 people have warrants out for their arrest, and 40,000 warrants are issued by the courts in a year.

New Plymouth area commander Inspector Blair Telford said police were always on the lookout for fugitives.

"We have greater success with some than we do with others. Some people duck and dive for cover, some people travel overseas, while with others it's merely the case that they've forgotten or couldn't be bothered."

He said police were actively seeking the more serious offenders. "Obviously with limited resources we prioritise them, depending on the nature of the offending.

"Police may also oppose bail so they are remanded in custody so they can't continue to reoffend."

Most people were located by police or handed themselves in, Telford said.

"It creates extra work for us. It would be nice if people actually turned up to court when they're meant to.

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"It'd save the court and police a lot of time."

Anyone with relevant information about a wanted offender should contact police, or report it anonymously through Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111.

Helpers risk charges

By Leighton Keith

Anyone caught helping the last of Taranaki's five most wanted men avoid capture could face charges, police say.

Last month police went public with Taranaki's five most wanted criminals.

Within two days of their mugshots appearing on the front page of the Taranaki Daily News, four of the five were in police custody.

Joel Jonathon Broughton, 33, of Hawera, who is wanted for an alleged carjacking of a BMW in New Plymouth, remains on the run.

Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward said police were seeking further help from the public to find Broughton and put him back in custody.

"He's evading police, he has a warrant for his arrest for a very serious offence, namely aggravated robbery, and we are obviously keen to apprehend him," Mr Coward said.

Mr Coward said anyone caught helping Broughton could be charged with obstructing police.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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