Men jailed for leading mob to NZ lodge

Ned Lowe was charged with murder after a drunken fight with another man over a girl. Photo / Supplied
Ned Lowe was charged with murder after a drunken fight with another man over a girl. Photo / Supplied

Six men have been jailed after leading a 100-strong mob armed with weapons to a lodge owned by a New Zealander in Vanuatu.

The group turned up at Tanna Lodge, owned by Hugh and Stellah Lowe, on August 10 last year.

They were found guilty of kidnapping two workers in relation to an alleged murder involving the owners' son, 18-year-old Ned Lowe, and sentenced last month to two years imprisonment for unlawful assembly and kidnapping, Fairfax reported.

The murder charge against Ned Lowe was subsequently thrown out.

During sentencing for the six men, the judge found two employees of the resort were forced inside a truck, before being questioned by the chief of a Tanna Island tribe for three hours.

None of the six men who were jailed had weapons, although others in the crowd had stones, knives and axes.

The Herald reported in September last year that Ned Lowe was charged with murder after an alleged drunken fight with another man over a girl.

Vanuatu police had accused Ned Lowe of beating Roger Kamisak with a piece of wood, stabbing him and running him over with a car.

Chief Inspector George Twomey told the Herald at the time that Mr Kamisak and Ned Lowe were drinking together on a beach with a young woman, who was understood to be Ned Lowe's girlfriend, on July 17 when a fight broke out.

"The background of the whole thing was they were fighting over a girl," Mr Twomey had told the Herald.

"The wounds were believed to have come from the wood and there was also knife wounds."

The victim had also been run over with a car, he said at the time. "It was very, very vicious. It happened when they were drunk."

Mr Twomey claimed Mr Kamisak's family reported him missing and his body was found in Ned Lowe's car, which had been set on fire, on July 18. Police believed family and friends of the victim burned down six of the units at Tanna Lodge the next day. On August 14, locals allegedly set fire to the remaining buildings, causing about $2 million damage and causing guests to flee.

During that incident, 21 Australians were evacuated to Port Vila and the police and army were called in.

The Lowe family had to be taken from the resort to the police station for protection, Mr Twomey said at the time.

Twenty-two suspects were subsequently arrested and detained in the correctional centres on Tanna Island and in Port Vila.

"There was a lot of tension on the island. If something like this happens of a significant nature they want to deal with things in their own way.

"It's hard to believe something like this happened on Tanna Island. People have a lot of respect for the expats, especially with what they are doing for business."

Following the arsons, a meeting was held between police and chiefs of local tribes to try to restore order to the island.

The case against Ned Lowe was thrown out by a Supreme Court judge in March, calling the prosecution "weak, vague and inconsistent".

According to Tanna Lodge's Facebook page, the Lowes bought the lodge in 2004 and spent five years restoring it.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not comment on the case last year. "The New Zealand High Commission in Port Vila offered consular assistance to the lodge owner, a New Zealand citizen."

- NZ Herald

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