Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Former partner of Palmerston North fugitive: 'I begged him to hand himself in'

The former partner of the Palmerston North fugitive has spoken about texting him throughout the ordeal and begging him to think of his children.

Caleb Peter Kovaleski, 25, was taken into police custody at 4.15pm after a two-day standoff with armed police that shut down nearly the entire suburb of Cloverlea.

Police were searching for the fugitive after he led them on a high speed chase. He had a number of warrants for his arrest relating to dishonesty and driving offences, and was believed to be carrying a firearm.

His former partner, who wished to only be known by her first name, Letitia, said she had two daughters with Kovaleski from a four-year relationship that ended in 2013.

The house where the fugitive was arrested. Photo / Supplied
The house where the fugitive was arrested. Photo / Supplied

He also had three other children with three other woman, including a daughter born earlier this year.

Today Letitia reached out to the man who "abandoned" her while she was pregnant with their youngest child and asked him to hand himself into police.

"I tried to talk him down, I told him that it was all over the news and more serious than he might think and that the police won't muck around if they know he has a gun.

"I said it was up to him to decide if he came out in a body bag or went to jail and begged him not to let it end in the worst possible way. An absent father is better than a dead one, I told him.

"I just kept saying to please, please ring the police and tell them that you want to hand yourself in so you don't get shot, and to do it for your future so you can still have one.

"He said he wasn't okay and then asked if I would write to him in jail."

About an hour later he handed himself into police.

Letitia said she was glad the situation resolved peacefully. Kovaleski was not violent or dangerous, but was "lost" and had had a troubled life, she said.

"He was a fun guy, really outgoing and full of energy but things went downhill when he got back into [anti-social activities]. He's always been a bit lost, and more of a danger to himself than to anyone else.

"He was in lots of foster homes from a young age, from primary school age. Because of his childhood and the way he started off as a young kid he's been stuck in that pattern his whole life of running from things and people and his problems."

She said Kovaleski suffered from some mental health issues and was "self-destructive and impulsive".

"If he sorts his life out one day he might have a chance to be a real dad."

Kovaleski was born in Auckland but spent time throughout the North Island and in the Marlborough region. He lived in Nelson with Letitia for a number of years and also in Christchurch, she said.

The Cloverlea Tavern, near the police cordon, in lockdown yesterday. Photo / Supplied
The Cloverlea Tavern, near the police cordon, in lockdown yesterday. Photo / Supplied

- NZ Herald

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