Doctors to assess abduction accused

A 26-year-old Timaru man will be psychiatrically assessed for his fitness to stand trial after he appeared in court yesterday following the alleged abduction of a 9-year-old schoolboy a week ago.

The accused entered no plea on an indictable charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm when he appeared in Timaru District Court before Judge Joanna Maze.

He showed no emotion as he sat in the dock dressed in a sports top, track pants and slippers. Two mothers from Oceanview Heights School, which the 9-year-old attended, were also in court along with numerous representatives from the media.

The accused was remanded in custody to reappear on December 5, at 10am.

A report was ordered to assess impairment and his fitness to stand trial. Counsel Jarrod Lovely said the accused's recollection of events was sketchy. The man was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the alleged abduction of the 9-year-old, who was found at Holme Station Bridge, more than 15 kilometres from Timaru by road.

The boy was found at 4.20pm, after leaving Oceanview Heights School at 3pm.

Defence counsel sought name suppression, which was supported by the police, although The Timaru Herald challenged this in court on public interest grounds.

Judge Maze granted interim name suppression and denied an application to photograph the accused because "these matters are premature and because of matters raised by the police and because of the identification of a person whose name is suppressed by law".

Inspector Dave Gaskin said all available staff had worked on the case and by the weekend had a "good indication" where the investigation was headed. Further charges could follow, he said.

"We had a number of little bits of the puzzle that came together very early on. We had a pretty good indication which way we were going over the weekend."

The public played a pivotal role, he said.

"We received a great deal of useful information from members of the public, that has helped us piece together a good picture of what occurred on the day. We're extremely grateful for that assistance."

Mr Gaskin said the boy was recovering well. He had suffered injuries to his mouth and jaw. He was still in Timaru Hospital last night, in a "comfortable" condition.

The Timaru Herald