Homeless Masterton man held

By Tessa Johnstone

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A homeless young Masterton man whose plight has baffled police and social services for months has again been arrested - this time for trespass.

Ben Hawea,19, who suffers from chronic addiction to petrol sniffing and alcohol was taken into custody on Saturday after being found underneath the swing bridge in Queen Elizabeth Park from where he has been banned and where he had apparently being sleeping.

Hawea had been out of prison only a few days.

He had been briefly in jail for burglary and trespass, offences linked to him seeking petrol to feed his long standing addiction and with having no place to live.

Hawea has been trespassed from 22 locations throughout Masterton.

Sergeant Simon Irving, of Masterton police, yesterday said Hawea spent the weekend in police cells after his arrest about 6pm Saturday.

He had been picked up by a police patrol following several complaints from people who had noticed him in the park.

"They were concerned that it's pretty near to the skate park, it's not a good look having a vagrant sleeping there and he had petrol containers with him."

Mr Irving said as Hawea was being arrested young people using the skate park were teasing him, yelling to him that he was a "loser".

He said Hawea had not approached anyone at the park, but had recently been approaching people at their homes and businesses asking for petrol, food or money.

Hawea was released from Rimutaka Prison on September 5, after his conviction for burglary, and Mr Irving said he has been arrested and put before the courts twice since then.

"We've exhausted all proactive and preventative policing, and we're now having to fall back on good old fashioned enforcement."

Earlier this year Hawea had been sent to a Christchurch facility under a compulsory treatment order but was sent back to Masterton when his behaviour led staff to the conclusion they could not keep him safe.

Police, the legal fraternity and the courts all agree Hawea needs treatment, not incarceration but are at a loss to know what can be done with him.

He is expected to appear in Masterton District Court within the next few days, charged with trespass..

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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