Lockdown has made it easier for police officers to spot people breaking the law, says senior community constable Russell Smith. Photo: File

Lockdown rule breakers arrested

A dozen people caught breaking lockdown Level 4 rules have been arrested.

Marlborough police have issues formal warnings to those caught out and about without good reason.

And repeat offenders not taking the warning to heart have found themselves in court.

Senior community constable Russell Smith says the courts are taking these breaches seriously.

“You may have noticed that Covid-19 Level 4 requirements mean that there are fewer vehicles on the road and far fewer people out-and-about.

“Some people, however, don’t seem to have worked out that this means that if they are out there doing things they are not supposed to be doing, it’s a lot easier for police to find and deal with them,” he says.

Those that have appeared in court have been set stringent bail conditions, including 22-hour a day curfew.

Less traffic means police have also been charging drunk drivers who are easier to spot.

“Police in Marlborough have also been arresting and charging a steady stream of people who have been found driving while intoxicated and driving when they are disqualified or prohibited from driving.

“As previously mentioned, they are easier to spot and more obvious while fewer people are moving around as a result of the Level 4 restrictions,” says senior community constable Smith.

“Please follow the rules. The restrictions are all about saving lives.”

Police have also been getting reports of would-be thieves trying their luck during lockdown.

Residents in Blenheim’s De Castro subdivision have been targeted recently, with police receiving reports of daytime prowlers.

Senior community constable Smith is warning people to be on their guard after several homes were targeted.

“Some residents in the De Castro subdivision have been reporting that they have had prowlers trying to open external doors in daylight while the residents have been home during the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown in recent days.

“To date, there have been several residents report hearing their front or rear door handle being tried, and when they have investigated the prowler has already left the property.

“Police are encouraging anyone who experiences similar activity, or who believes they have a prowler on their property to call Police on 111.”

 

Blenheim man Mark Bishell was arrested on Saturday on a yacht allegedly trafficking methamphetamines. Photo: Supplied.

Blenheim man caught in high seas drug bust

A former Blenheim man has been arrested after being caught on a yacht allegedly hauling hundreds of kilos of methamphetamines.

Mark Bishell, 33, was taken into custody by police on Saturday following a tip off from the New Caledonian authorities last week.

Bishell was on board the sailboat La Fayette when police uncovered more than 1000 plastic wrapped packages believed to be methamphetamine.

An Australian Federal Police spokesman says forensic experts are now carrying out tests on the drugs and the yacht.

British-South African Sebastian Seve Barnard, 34, has also been arrested.

“Specialist forensic officers are continuing to deconstruct the boat and examine the contents, which is believed to contain methamphetamine.

Packages found on the yacht, La Fayette. Photo: Australian Federal Police.
Packages found on the yacht, La Fayette. Photo: Australian Federal Police.

“Further forensic testing will be undertaken to determine the exact weight and purity of the seized substances,” a spokesman says.

Bishell, a former deckhand and fisherman, was rescued from near White’s Bay in 2011 after falling ill onboard a fishing boat with a serious bowel infection.

He was winched to safety amid high winds by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew.

The former Marlborough Boys’ College student was a keen rower and runner.

The two men were taken to Surry Hills Police Station and charged with importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.

Police say a “vessel of interest” travelled from Mexico to New Caledonia to meet the yacht La Fayette and load it with drugs.

Both Bishell and Barnard were refused bail after appearing before Parramatta Bail Court.

The pair were arrested on Saturday. Photo: Australian Federal Police.
The pair were arrested on Saturday. Photo: Australian Federal Police.

The maximum penalty for the offence is life imprisonment.

The spokesman says the investigation, codenamed Operation ROMANI, has been an ongoing operation with the UK’s National Crime Agency and its office in Canberra looking into British Organised Crime groups targeting Australia.

The multi-agency investigation included the Australian Federal Police (AFP), New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) and Australian Border Force (ABF), collaborating with agencies from the United Kingdom and New Caledonia.

Drivers caught breaking lockdown may face arrest. Photo: File

Drivers caught out breaking lockdown for an Easter break

A plea by police for people not to breach self-solation over Easter is falling on deaf ears for some.

Nelson Marlborough and Tasman Police have caught the drivers of eight campervans and house buses at a checkpoint on SH6 this morning.

All have been trying to head north from Murchison for Easter, say police.

This comes as police revealed they would be ramping up efforts on the roads to catch out those flouting lockdown rules.

“We are checking to see why people are travelling.

So far eight camper vans and house buses have been turned around and ordered back to their Christchurch homes where they were supposed to be rather than trying to get to an Easter Holiday destination,” says a social media post.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is urging people to stay stay and stay at home.

“We know many New Zealanders may have been planning to catch up with friends and family this weekend, or travel to traditional holiday destinations but we urge anyone who was planning to do this – please change your plans and stay home.

“Officers will be visible in our communities and on the roads, including around popular holiday spots, and on the arterial roads to them, to make sure people are aware of the requirement that everyone in New Zealand need to stay at their current place of residence while the Level 4 restrictions are in place,” he says.

Police will also be deploying checkpoints at a number of Marlborough locations, working with local authorities and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups.

Police Commissioner Coster warns people face arrest if they continue to ignore warnings.

Travelling to the bach for a holiday is not essential travel and it is not permitted, he says.

“It’s simple – travelling to and from different towns and cities risks spreading Covid-19 and puts lives at risk.

“The first step will be to educate, but if people continue to break the rules, police will use their discretion to warn people, or if necessary, they could be arrested.

“We’re asking everyone to play their part this Easter, stick to the rules and stay home within their bubble – and keep themselves and their communities safe.”

Jessica Boyce’s disappearance is being treated as murder. Photo: Supplied.

Family’s heart-felt plea to killer

The family of murder victim Jessica Boyce have made an emotional plea to her killer to end their torment.

As the first anniversary of the day she disappeared approaches, Jessica’s cousin Aaron Goodwin has a message for her killer – hand yourself in.

And he is begging for the murderer to reveal where Jessica’s body can be found so she can finally be laid to rest.

In an open message to the killer, Aaron says he still hopes that Jessica’s killer will do the right thing.

“You have had a year to do the right thing. I still, perhaps naively, hold on to hope that your conscience will get the better of you – that any good values your family may have instilled in you when you were young will win out.

“You will make an attempt at redemption and you will either hand yourself in or at least find a way to communicate to us where we can find and retrieve Jess,” he says.

Jessica Boyce was 27 when she was last seen in Renwick on 19 March driving her mum’s red Holden Rodeo ute.

The vehicle was discovered at the Lake Chalice car park in the Richmond Ranges on Friday, March 22.

Jessica’s disappearance became a homicide investigation in October.

Posting on the Find Jess website last week, Aaron says the killer must be struggling with what they have done.

“How long can you live with yourself knowing what you’ve done?

“Replaying it over and over in your head like a movie, heart skipping a beat and morphing into a full-blown panic attack when the police release another statement or Jess’s face reappears in the media,” he says.

“Your own life is more-or-less over, the only way to regain your humanity and anything resembling peace of mind back now is to confess and to own your part in Jess’s homicide and the subsequent cover up.

“How long can you trust anyone else involved with Jess’s disappearance to keep their mouth shut? How do you know they aren’t already talking, laying as much of the blame at your feet as possible before you can even formulate a defence?

Described by Aaron as “innocently naïve,” Jessica is mourned every day by her distraught family and wide circle of friends.

“Where has the time gone? Weird how it can seem like each day waiting for a development seems to drag on forever, yet it seems like only yesterday we got the news that you were missing,” he says.

Robbing her of a future also “struck fear” into the community, says Aaron.

“You have struck fear into the heart of the peaceful Marlborough community. Your community.

“The rumours about the investigation must be driving you insane, and that’s only going to get worse. People should not have to worry that killers are walking among them on Marlborough streets.

“Not only have you taken away a person whose light and energy was responsible for so much happiness in the world, you have also forever changed in a negative way the lives of many family members and friends of Jess’s”.

Jessica’s brother George is now living with Aaron. Having him close by is a comfort, he says.

He will never give up on finding justice for Jessica, he says.

“The most offensive consequence of your actions is the fact that you have robbed Jess of any future she would have had, here with us, where she belongs.

Friend Theresa Mischeski described Jessica’ disappearance as a “nightmare.”

“She’s one of ours, The cop’s have been told so much by so many of us I can’t understand why no one is arrested?

“I don’t know what else to say but keep strong to her family and friends, I’m sure they will get the hideous subhumans whom are involved.”

New Zealand police have been approached for comment and say they plan on releasing a statement on 19 March.

Anyone with any information can contact Crimestoppers New Zealand anonymously on 0800 555 111. Visit crimestoppers-nz.org for more ways to help.

Blenheim Police can be contacted on 578 5279.

Aaron Harvey was convicted at Blenheim High Court in 2008. File photo.

Murderer to be freed from prison

A Blenheim man who spent 11 years of a life sentence in prison for murder will be freed on Wednesday.

Aaron James Harvey, 44, was found guilty of murder in 2008 after killing Carl MacDonald in a gang related shooting in Blenheim.

The New Zealand Parole Board has agreed to release Harvey from Rolleston Prison in Christchurch, with staff noting “how well” he has done.

He is forbidden from returning to Blenheim and will be released to a Canterbury address.

In its written decision, the parole board says Harvey will have an initial three-month curfew in place.

“He is no longer an undue risk and may now be released.

“We have amended a number of the proposed special conditions. The curfew provision has been amended.

“It will be from 10pm to 6am and we will not require electronic monitoring of the curfew.

“We will require electronic monitoring of his whereabouts which prevents him from going to Blenheim.”

Harvey, a former member of the Lone Legion motorcycle gang, was sentenced to life, serving a minimum of ten years in prison, after a jury found him guilty at a High Court trial in Blenheim.

Three other men on trial for the murder along with Harvey were acquitted and he later lost an appeal against his conviction.

On his release, he is forbidden from communicating or associating with co-offenders Corey William Mackle, Peter Christopher Tait and Jason David Warren.

Carl Edward MacDonald, 39, died at Wairau Hospital after he was shot with a sawn-off .22 rifle following a fight.

An argument outside the Lone Legion Motorcycle headquarters on Gascoigne Street in Blenheim was sparked after Harvey threw a brick at MacDonald’s car.

Harvey has impressed the parole board with his efforts to rehabilitate and has been on Release to Work since February 2019

It also noted that a psychologist described Harvey as “having a moderate risk of reoffending”

The report says Harvey has now had an offer of full-time post-release employment from an employer he has worked with while on release.

“He has had a number of guided releases to where he might live and to other places in the community.

“He has an extensive support network, including [withheld] and other family members.”

Lockdown has made it easier for police officers to spot people breaking the law, says senior community constable Russell Smith. Photo: File

Police thwart cannabis op

Police have uncovered a sophisticated cannabis growing operation following a search of two Marlborough properties.

Officers executed two search warrants last week that netted a significant quantity of cannabis that was being grown in commercial quantities.

A firearm was also seized at one of the homes and investigations are still underway.

Senior community constable Russ Smith says 124 plants were found in a series of indoor grow rooms at a rural property in Queen Charlotte Drive.

“A total of 124 mostly mature cannabis plants were in a series of indoor grow rooms with sophisticated filtration and lighting systems.

“A firearm was also seized.  Police are still investigating but are considering laying charges against two individuals occupying the property,” he says.

Thirty-eight mature cannabis plants and 139 grams of dried plant were seized at another rural property west of Havelock.

Police know that those who grow cannabis commercially do business with organised crime groups, says Russ.

“The sale of their crops contributes to crime by helping to fund criminal activity.

“As a consequence, police will act whenever there is evidence of illicit activity relating to cannabis and any other illegal drug possession, cultivation, dealing, manufacture or use.

“If you are aware of cannabis or any other drug activity, please contact the police so that we can do something about it.”

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111, call the Police non-emergency number 105, or speak to any police officer.

A car was fished out of the Wairau River last week. Photo: Supplied.

Sinking car sparks police call out

A partially submerged car was pulled out of the Wairau River after shocked bystanders alerted police.

The blue Holden Barina was discovered in the water about 4pm on Thursday near Hillocks Road north of Spring Creek.

Police attended the scene and the car was carefully hoisted out.

A police spokeswoman says the incident was not reported as an accident.

“Typically, in instances such as this, the local council would be notified to have the vehicle removed,” she says.

The injured man is likely to have all his medical treatment costs, which could run into several thousand dollars, covered by ACC. File photo.

ATV theft ends in tears

A man has been seriously injured after he was thrown from a farm vehicle minutes after it was allegedly stolen.

The unnamed man, believed to be a Frenchman in his 20s, was left with a badly mangled hand and had to be flown by Life Flight to Hutt Hospital for surgery.

He faces possible finger amputation after falling from the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) as it overturned on Friday, causing crush injuries.

A 24-year old associate of the man was arrested and appeared in Blenheim District Court on Monday morning charged with burglary and has been remanded on bail.

A police spokeswoman says the two men had taken the ATV from a farm near Taylor Pass Road on the outskirts of Blenheim shortly before the crash.

“A man and an associate accessed the farm in the vicinity of Taylors Pass Road, Blenheim where they located an all-terrain vehicle.

“The vehicle was driven for a short time before it overturned. The man was found by police at Wairau Hospital,” she says.

Under the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) scheme, the injured man is likely to have all his medical treatment costs, which could run into several thousand dollars, covered.

An ACC spokeswoman says that those visiting New Zealand should still have travel insurance for injuries that aren’t covered by the scheme such as illnesses, or other events like lost luggage.

The injured man was in a stable condition in Hutt Valley Hospital on Monday, a spokeswoman from Hutt Valley District Health Board says.

His associate is scheduled to appear in court in February.

Police were called to the PAK’n SAVE carpark on Friday night. Photo: Supplied.

Supermarket stabbing

A man has been seriously injured after being stabbed in a supermarket carpark in Blenheim.

Police were called to the PAK’n SAVE supermarket carpark on Westwood Avenue about 8pm on Friday after reports of a fight.

The patient was first taken to Wairau Hospital in Blenheim before being transported to Nelson Hospital by the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter.

A police spokeswoman says a man was stabbed and two people have been taken into custody.

“A man sustained a serious but not life-threatening stab wound.

“Police continue to make enquiries into the circumstances of the incident.”

Anyone with information may help is urged to contact Blenheim Police by visiting the station or calling 105.

Information can also be provided anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Boaties in Marlborough will be under the watchful gaze of automatic speed cameras. Photo: Supplied.

Speeding boaties caught on camera

Automatic speed cameras are catching out speeding boaties in marinas across Marlborough.

Hi tech cameras in Picton, Waikawa and Havelock Marinas are recording every vessel as it arrives and leaves.

Around ten people have been slapped with $200 infringement notices since the cameras were installed.

Acting Harbourmaster Jan Eveleens revealed the cameras have been calibrated to a high standard, like those used by police officers.

He says the Marlborough District Council funded cameras came after an idea to install signs like those that flash up speeds for motorists.

Acting Harbourmaster Jan Eveleens. Photo: Supplied.
Acting Harbourmaster Jan Eveleens. Photo: Supplied.

“I thought we should have them in the marinas, but they were not accurate enough.

“It’s been a bit of an experiment as they [the new cameras] were picking up waves and seabirds but they’re much better now, very accurate.”

The camera at Havelock was installed last winter while the Picton and Waikawa cameras were put up in December.

They record every vessels’ speed as they arrive and leave in the marina.

Boats going above the limit are instantly recorded and an alert goes to the Harbour Master.

Infringement notices are sent to boat owners by the council for breaking local bylaws.

Jan says people flouting the 8-knot speed limit as they arrive at Havelock Marina and the 5-knot limit in place at Picton and Waikawa will face fines.

“There have been some serial offenders but what we are seeing is that once word gets out is that people are slowing down.

“We had one boat coming into Havelock that drove straight into one of the beacons and the boatie hurt himself.

“People can hurt themselves if they are going too fast.”

The Harbourmaster will also monitor speed limits on the lower Wairau River from the State Highway 1 Bridge to below the Blenheim Rowing Club.

Jan says there have been reports of jet skiers on this stretch of the river going too fast.

The maximum speed in this section of the river is 5 knots.

“We want people to slow down and be safe,” he says.