James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Knife at throat after act of kindness

Incident one of many as teen goes on rampage from Owhango to Taumarunui stealing at least five vehicles and eight firearms.

Jason Dickinson, seen here with daughter Lily-Jean, admits throwing a rock at the vehicle wasn't the smartest thing to do. Photo / Matt Jordan
Jason Dickinson, seen here with daughter Lily-Jean, admits throwing a rock at the vehicle wasn't the smartest thing to do. Photo / Matt Jordan

Rod Dickinson says he's unlikely to repeat the random act of kindness he showed to a complete stranger who returned the favour by putting a knife to his throat before calmly telling him he would kill him.

The incident was one of a number allegedly involving a 19-year-old man who went on a rampage from Owhango to Taumarunui stealing at least five vehicles and eight firearms.

The man is alleged to have threatened at least two people with a knife, including Mr Dickinson.

He is also believed to have threatened people with a firearm, including Mr Dickinson and his son Jason.

"He seemed really polite and well-dressed, it was like he was going to church when he came around and asked if I knew the number for a wrecker's yard," said Mr Dickinson.

"I checked the phone book for him and while I was doing that he swiped my son's keys and then the phone rang.

"It was my neighbour and she was telling me to be careful of this guy. The phone was on speaker and he heard it and put a knife here and said 'hang up the phone, or I'll slit your throat'."

The man left without harming Mr Dickinson in his son Jason's 1987 Honda Accord. He returned to the area about 20 minutes later after allegedly driving off from the Manunui Challenge service station with $79 of petrol when Jason Dickinson threw a rock at the vehicle.

Jason Dickinson said "it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do, but I just wanted my car back".

"He stopped and pointed it [the gun] at us and told us he would blow our heads off. It was pretty crazy s***.

"He slowed right down and jumped out of the vehicle and pulled out the rifle and let a shot off ... and then he took off back into town."

The Herald understands the man then went to the Mobil service station in Taumarunui where he ordered a pack of cigarettes but did not pay.

It is understood a staff member at the service station took the key out of the ignition and disarmed him. He then walked off from the station into the township.

By now police had swarmed on Taumarunui with armed offender squads called in from Wanganui, Palmerston North and Hamilton.

The town was cordoned off for at least four hours as 50 officers, a dog squad and several helicopters searched for the man, who was arrested by armed police not long after.

Wanganui Ruapehu sub-area commander inspector Steve Mastrovich said it was amazing no one was killed.

"It is amazing, really, and those very same people who helped him could well have been killed, it had all the hallmarks of a mass killing, really.

"But people should take comfort out here that if incidents like this happen, we are going to respond."

Mr Mastrovich believes about five shots had been fired but he could not confirm where.

He said the police investigation was trying to piece together what happened over the area between Raurimu, Whakahoro and Taumarunui in the early hours of yesterday up until mid-morning.

The man has been charged with the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle but is likely to face more serious charges. He is to appear in the Taumarunui District Court this morning where police will be seeking to have him remanded in custody.

Rod Dickinson said he would be unlikely to help any strangers who came to his door. "Not now, no ... it makes you think about things."

- NZ Herald

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