Two men arrested after dramatic West Coast rescue


A dramatic rescue unfolded near the old Spring Creek mine at Dunollie late last night with a man today lying critically injured in hospital.

Police, acting on a call of suspicious activity off Spring Creek Rd about 9.30pm, found two men who insisted they were looking for a missing friend.

Both were arrested after police also found a vehicle on the road with a coil of copper sitting on the bonnet, the Greymouth District Court heard this morning.

“A third person was injured when they fell from a height, while attempting to evade police,” police said.

The Greymouth and Runanga fire brigades subsequently winched the seriously hurt man up a 60m bank. He was transported to hospital in a critical condition.

Inquiries into the circumstances of the incident were ongoing, police said in a written statement this morning.

Greymouth deputy chief fire officer Colin Thomas, said the person was 50 to 60m down a bank, off Spring Creek Rd.

The Roa Mining Rescue Helicopter was unable to winch the injured man out due to high tension power lines in the area, and the Greymouth brigade utilised their lines rescue team to pull the man up.

Mr Thomas said they were on site from about 10.30pm to 1.15am, when the injured man was loaded into an ambulance.

Runanga fire brigade officer in charge Aaron Sheehan said they were also called about 10pm.

“We were asked to assist police in a lines rescue. The patient was down a bank.”

Rescue helicopter staff said their paramedic helped at the scene and accompanied the patient to Greymouth Hospital.

Two men linked to the incident appeared in the Greymouth District Court before Justice of the Peace Maureen Truman today.

Police initially opposed bail but the pair were released on bail pending further court appearances next week.

Runanga man Hamish James Robin, 41, a fisherman, faces charges of driving while disqualified and being found in an enclosed yard without reasonable excuse.

His co-defendant, 34-year-old David Cook of Westport, was similarly charged.

Both said they were concerned about a friend missing since the day before, their lawyer Stewart Sluis said.

“Mr Cook and Mr Robin went looking for their friend and he had fallen down a cliff.

“Earlier in that day their friend went for a walk, went out and didn’t return. They went looking for him, and that’s why they were in the area.”

The men were on a private road well used by local people and there was “no evidence that they were there to commit any sort of offence”.

“Robin doesn’t know anything about a vehicle with copper wire located on the bonnet. He doesn’t have a car. That’s why he was riding a motorcycle,” Mr Sluis said.

“There is very slim evidence that he was there to cause any sort of offence: it’s difficult to drive a car and a motorcycle at the same time.”

Both defendants were disqualified from driving and had allegedly wheeled their motorcycles to the Spring Creek Rd entrance in the belief it was “private property”.

Robin did have “prior history and it doesn’t look good he’s gone to an area he’s convicted for a burglary”.

Cook had been arrested on the serious charge of driving while disqualified, third or subsequent time, and being “unlawfully in a yard”.

Mr Sluis said Cook admitted being on a motorbike “as captured on CCTV”, but had walked it from Runanga first and was not “flouting the law but rode in an area he thought he could”.

The point of law was finely balanced if he was “driving on a road”.

“The reason he was there was innocent … he doesn’t have a footprint for burglary.”

Police prosecutor sergeant Graeme Eden said a burglary from earlier yesterday was under investigation but evidence had yet to emerge of Robin being linked and they did not oppose bail for both men.

The men were ordered not to associate with their third person, who remains in hospital.