Mum 'not surprised' guns were taken

Photo / file
Photo / file

Two police pistols involved in the killing of Taranaki man Steven Wallace were stolen from a courthouse room described as impenetrable, leaving the mother of Wallace questioning a link between the courts and the police.

Taranaki Police has said they are investigating the theft of the two Glock pistols from the New Plymouth District Court, where they were being kept as evidence.

Police said they became aware of the theft in June last year and that one of the pistols was recovered while police were investigating a man for drug charges.

Raewyn Wallace said she was beside herself since hearing the news.

Her son had smashed windows in Waitara before he was shot dead by Constable Keith Abbott in April 2000.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority and the courts have found police acted reasonably in their actions.

Mrs Wallace and her husband Jim are pursuing a private prosecution that police took away Wallace's right to life.

"When they came to tell me I said 'of course they have'.... Nothing will shock me now," she said.

Mrs Wallace said the two guns were kept in evidence because they needed to be tested to help build the prosecution case.

She had seen the locker in the exhibit rooms where the guns were kept and found it "far-fetched" that a member of the public could get in to the evidence room and open the gun case.

"There is no way anyone can get those guns out of that case," she said.

Mrs Wallace said police had asked for their weapons back a few years ago. Mrs Wallace had told them they were part of the evidence for the legal case they were working on, so they couldn't be returned.

She said she has been questioning the link between the courts and police, and whether someone from the courts would have interests in protecting the police.

She said she expected the private prosecution to be underway shortly.

General Manager of District Courts Tony Fisher said the theft of the firearms was a serious matter.

"The safe custody of exhibits is of the utmost importance to the integrity our court processes," he said.

"The discovery that the two firearms were missing prompted the Ministry to undertake a security review of its exhibit rooms and tighten procedures around the custody of exhibits."

A stocktake was taken of the contents of exhibit rooms in district courts across the country and found no other firearms were missing.

"There are very few firearms held in the courts and they are held safely. We know where they are located and who has access to them," Mr Fisher said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said the Ministry is leaving the investigation in to how the firearms were stolen up to the police.

- APNZ

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