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THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 2015
Est. 1866 Phone 769 7900
Detectives are investigating a
suspicious fire that gutted a sleepout
and scorched the adjoining house,
in Cobden on Tuesday night. Police
today appealed for public help to
identify who was behind the fire,
on the corner of Hall Street and
Dupre Place. The Cobden Volunteer
Fire Brigade quickly extinguished
the flames before they engulfed the
house, with a sleeping occupant
inside. Fire chief Gary Pollock
said it was a good save. “Had we
not received the call so quickly, or
if it was in the early hours of the
morning, the outcome could have
been very different,” Mr Pollock said.
Acting detective sergeant Kirsten
Norton, of the Greymouth CIB, said
they were working on several lines of
inquiry. “ This is extremely dangerous
behaviour that could easily lead to
loss of life and we need the public
to assist us in identifying the person
responsible before further harm is
done,” Ms Norton said.
in four days
Police have attended four
non-injury car accidents in the
Reefton area in the past four
days, all of them caused by loss of
concentration, alcohol or speed,
a spokesman said. “It has been
luck rather than good driving that
someone has not been seriously
injured or killed,” he said.
A wife who cut off her cheating
husband’s penis sneaked back into
hospital to remove it for a second
time. She allegedly flew into a rage
after discovering a flirty e-mail
exchange between husband Fan
Lung and his lover Zhang Hung
— on her cellphone. The 32-year-
old’s pride and joy was snipped off
with a pair of scissors as he slept
at his home in Shangqiu, China’s
Henan province. He was taken to
hospital where he had it sewn back
on. However, his fuming spouse,
30, slipped into his treatment room
and cut it off again before throwing
it out of a window. “Someone told
reception a naked man was beating
up a woman outside,” a hospital
spokesman said. — Metro
Rain spreads north, then eases
A Kaiata man fatally struck
by the steam train he was
photographing did not realise
how close it was to him because
he was looking at it through his
camera lens, the coroner has ruled.
On September 7, 2013, Gregory
John D uncraft, a meatworker
from Kaiata, was standing on
the railway track near Kokiri
when a Mainland Steam charter
steam train struck him at 5.45pm,
throwing him into the air.
Mr Duncraft, 50, was still alive
and taken to Grey Base Hospital
with an open skull fracture and
serious internal injuries. He died
Coroner David Crerar said Mr
Duncraft had gone to see the
train with friend Caroline Milne.
She stopped pressing the button
on her camera when the engine
was 30m away, and turned away.
Next, she heard someone calling
for an ambulance.
The train crew, and a doctor and
ambulance officer who had been
on board the train, gave aid.
Lisa Hartigan, who was driving
to Moana to meet the train with
her children, expressed concern
that Mr Duncraft was still on the
The train “gave a loud toot ” but
he was still standing there “with
his face to the camera”.
When it was just 3m away he
took the camera down from his
face and tried to step away quickly,
but the train clipped his legs.
Norman Leonard and Alfred
Wilson were in the locomotive
cab. Mr Leonard blew the whistle
and saw Mr Duncraft get hit, the
impact throwing his body to the
left side of the locomotive.
Grey Base Hospital staff later
reviewed the case and found
potential for improvements in
emergency trauma practice.
Pathologist Dr Martin Sage
noted the nasogastric tube during
resuscitation was incorrectly sited.
Mr Duncraft’s son Lucas had
told the coroner his father’s
medication had been changed
and that had affected his balance,
though the coroner thought he
would have stabilised by the time
of the accident.
Although Mr Duncraft’s wife
had died 18 months previously,
his son said he appeared a little
happier when he last saw him,
though his eyesight was not the
best and he needed glasses.
Lucas Duncraft said, “sometimes
when dad was concentrating on
someone or something, he would
he hard to get out of it ...”
Mr Duncraft’s sister Elizabeth
Beresford said he could hardly see
without his glasses, which were
The coroner said it was probable
that if he had looked at the train
directly, he would have more
immediately recognised the
There was no evidence that a
failure by his GP or the district
health board had contributed
to the death. His condition was
terminal due to the scale of his
There was nothing Kiwi Rail,
which chartered the train, could
The coroner ordered the return
of Mr Duncraft ’s camera to his
One of the oldest intact buildings on
the West Coast went up in smoke at
Ross early today.
The 149-year-old unoccupied, derelict
house — originally the Totara Hospital
on the hillside overlooking the
town, was razed in the early morning
By late morning all that was left
standing were the brick chimneys amid
still smouldering remains.
Owners Julie and Jason Martin, of
Hokitika, were called at 1.40am to say
the building was ablaze.
Mrs Martin said fire was visible from
the Mahinapua straight, 20km away, as
her husband raced to Ross.
“It was such a still night, the smoke
went straight up.”
Mrs Martin said they had always
intended to demolish the rickety old
building in consultation with Heritage
New Zealand, and rebuild.
“It was quite a hazard,” she said.
The Martins had been particularly
keen to salvage some of the distinctive
features, such as the arched double
hung windows. Now, the only things
left to incorporate in their new
building were the chimney bricks.
“ It is sad because we wanted to
salvage what we could (but) we’ve still
got the view,” she said.
The site remained cordoned off late
this morning while police began to
Inspector John Canning said
detectives were due at the scene late
this morning and the fire was being
treated as arson until evidence emerged
The hospital opened in August 1866
and operated until at least 1914, after
which it became the Ross Masonic
Lodge for a time, and then a private
The last long-term owner of 15 years,
the late Peter Dor ward, lived there
with his goats until 2012. The Martins
bought the property in February 2013.
A secret stash of drugs, guns and cash
and a methamphetamine addiction were
given by a Greymouth District Court
judge today as reasons for denying bail
for a former Westport man charged with
offering to supply tens of thousands of
dollars of methamphetamine (P).
Jason Michael Hawes was charged
with offering to supply the class A drug
via a series of text messages, in amounts
ranging from $7500 to $33,000, between
April 1 and September 30 last year.
Lawyer Marcus Zintl said Hawes, who
worked as a forestry worker in Timaru,
was visiting family in Westport, and
was currently recovering from a bout of
Given how long it might be until the
case came to trial, Mr Zintl said Hawes
would be at risk of losing his job if he
was not granted bail.
Hawes offered to agree to not own or
use a cellphone as a condition of his bail.
However, police opposed bail, saying
they were concerned about how well
such an agreement could be policed, and
had concerns over whether that alone
would impede Hawes contacting his
Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said the
charge laid against Hawes was a
representative one, as police were in
the process of analysing 22,000 text
messages sent by him which could
potentially result in a further 80 charges
Judge O’Driscoll said the fact that the
jail term for a person found guilty of
the offence was life imprisonment, that
would act as “every encouragement ” for
Hawes not to appear at court in the
future if he was granted bail.
As Hawes was a current user of
methamphetamine, and had been
found in possession of the drug when
he was arrested by police, there was also
cause for concern over the risk of him
Judge O’Driscoll said that as the
accused had access to a secret stash of
firearms, drugs and cash, there was a “real
and substantial risk the defendant would
not answer his bail and would reoffend”.
Hawes was remanded in custody to
reappear in the Westport District Court
on January 22.
Alleged P dealer denied bail
PICTURE: Brendon McMahon
Smoke curls around the remaining chimneys of
the historic Totara Hospital building, at Ross, this
morning. Inset: Abandoned and derelict in 2013.
West Coast history lost in fire
Gregory Duncraft, pictured in front of a steam train.
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