Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

'Hoo rah': Fugitive responds to Facebook post

Michael Hagger is still being sought by police, despite his interaction with them on Facebook. Photo / supplied
Michael Hagger is still being sought by police, despite his interaction with them on Facebook. Photo / supplied

When Michael Hagger heard police were appealing for sightings of him on their Facebook page, he had two words to say: hoo rah.

Three arrest warrants are out for the 34-year-old, who faces shoplifting charges and failed to appear in the Taupo District Court in May.

On Friday police published his photograph and sought information on the Tauhara Paetiki Neighbourhood Policing Team's Facebook page.

Hagger responded about two hours later, writing "hoo rah", prompting a personal message from police.

"Hi Michael, glad to see you like the page. Please contact Detective Dunn and arrange getting these matters sorted," they wrote.

Hagger, who has almost 200 convictions for dishonesty offences, did not reply and last night police did not know where he was.

However he spoke to the Herald yesterday and said there was a simple explanation for why he was hiding.

He did not go to his last court date in Taupo as he was unwell, sending someone to hand over explanatory documents to the court and his lawyer.

"I've been on the methadone programme for a number of years and I was at the time coming off the methadone," he said.

"I took in a doctor's report and a medical certificate to have the matter adjourned and the judge said 'Mr Hagger is a liar and a thief and I'm not going to look at this'. Didn't even look at it and he put a warrant out for my arrest.

"I'm planning on going to court and turning myself in but not in that area. I've had a social worker recommend to me that I not go to that court, that I get it transferred out of that area."

Hagger, who would not say where he was, has been off methadone for about a month.

"I've got clean drug tests to go with that. I have been in prison before, of course - I've got a big past, I think I've got 178 dishonesty convictions, but I've been out of jail for five years.

"In that time I've tried to clean up my act."

Hagger vowed to end his offending and had solid plans for his future.

"I'm off the methadone. I've already done a certificate of social and community science and a year of youth work previously. I've done drug and alcohol courses, anger management, stress management, relapse prevention - all those sorts of things.

"I have either a year to go on my youth work course or two years on my social and community science course. So I'm planning on continuing those."

Hagger said he wanted to get the charges dealt with as quickly as possible so he could move on with his life.

He said police had not contacted him on Facebook, apart from the response they made about his posting on their own page. "Yes I am planning on getting in touch with them."

He was "quite surprised" his message to police had created such a stir.

The officers who run the Facebook page removed Hagger's post, an action which annoyed some followers who believed the comment created publicity that would have helped police to find him.

An officer maintaining the page yesterday said the deleted comments were detracting from the purpose of publishing Hagger's photo.

"Fair call, we are new to this social media thing and the posts appeared to be detracting from the purpose of the thread. I see now that they created traffic ... But in the long game the purpose of the page is not about creating traffic and having things go viral," they wrote.

Hagger spent time in jail in 2008, twice in 2007 and in 2004 for offences including escaping from police custody, theft, shoplifting and theft. He also has convictions in Australia.

- NZ Herald

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