Trio arrested after tunnel fire

By Peter de Graaf

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Three young men are on remand after a stolen car was set alight in an historic rail tunnel near Kaikohe.

A sharp-eyed local raised the alarm about 11.20am on Friday when he saw smoke coming from the 80-metre tunnel, built in 1915 for the Okaihau branch railway. It is now part of the Kaikohe-Okaihau leg of the Twin Coast Cycle Trail.

Acting Senior Sergeant Pat Davis said the Nissan Pulsar, stolen in Warkworth on February 18, had been driven through a gate at the end of Hillcrest Rd and along the cycle trail into the tunnel, where it had been set alight. The Kaikohe Fire Brigade was called out to extinguish the blaze.

A police officer was interviewing the witness when he spotted three men fleeing the scene on foot towards Taheke Rd. He alerted other officers who caught the trio on the far side of Monument Hill after a short chase on foot.

The three men, aged 20, 21 and 23, appeared in the Kaikohe District Court on Saturday and were remanded in custody until Friday. Two are from Kaikohe and one from Auckland. All three are charged with unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle while one faces a charge of arson.

Mr Davis said he was grateful to the member of the public whose assistance and quick thinking had led to the apprehension of the trio.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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