North Island manhunt over

North Island manhunt over

Wanted fugitive Dolphy Kohu, who led central North Island police on a large-scale manhunt, has been remanded in custody following a brief court appearance.

Kohu and five others were eventually in the Ruapehu district yesterday. Police are still looking for another person, but say they don't pose a risk to the public.

Kohu, who had a cut above his eye, appeared in the Whanganui District Court this afternoon and has been remanded in custody to appear in the High Court next month.

Family members in the public gallery yelled messages of support to him in the dock.

The co-accused are yet to be dealt with by a judge.

Kohu, who had been the subject of a widespread police operation since Wednesday morning, was arrested with a man and a woman at the turnoff to Ohakune in Waiouru.

There was a firearm found inside the car, and Kohu and the two others were arrested without incident about 9:20pm on Wednesday.

Police said a 23-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder, using a firearm against a law enforcement officer and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

Four others – two men aged 17 and two women, aged 22 and 39 – have been charged with being party to using a firearm against a law enforcement officer and unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle.

One other male, aged 28, was charged with accessory after the fact.

Police say they are also working to identify and locate another person from an earlier incident. This person does not pose any risk to the community, they say.

All six will appear in the Whanganui District Court this morning and police say more charges may be laid as the investigation continues.

"These arrests come after some great work from police staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the day to locate Mr Kohu," superintendent Sue Schwalger said last night.

"I'm pleased that there was no further violence involved against police staff and that our communities will have the security of knowing Mr Kohu has been apprehended tonight."

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron lives in Raetihi, and says locals were kept well-informed by police.

"They just said, 'go about your daily lives', so that's exactly what people did," he said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.

"There was a definite feeling when I visited the police station late in the afternoon, you had that sense the police were just sitting and waiting for the word to come from someone just to move in and take them."

Today there is a feeling of relief across the town.

"Also there's a sense of inevitability they were going to be caught."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor says officers, their families as well as the community will be relieved by the outcome of the operation.

"During such incidents, all local police resources are mobilised and focused, and families of the officers at home are left more concerned than usual for the safety of their operational partners and parents," he says.

He says it is a reminder of how routine policing duties such as pulling over a car can quickly turn into an extremely dangerous situation.

Kohu sparked a huge manhunt following an early-morning police chase and shooting.

Police say they began pursuing a fleeing driver near Whanganui at about 2:30am, and during the pursuit the police car was rammed.

One of the occupants fired shots at close range at two officers, leaving them shaken but unhurt.

The occupants of the pursued car then stole the police car and fled.

The police car was dumped near Tangiwai and the group were picked up in a dark vehicle.

Kohu was released from jail on June 3 after serving a sentence for wilful damage. But on July 1, Corrections applied to recall Kohu to prison and a warrant for his arrest was issued, the Parole Board said.

Since July 1, police had raided four properties to find Kohu.


NZN / 3 News