Sunday, October 17, 2021

Man charged over search for father and children in Marokopa

Police and other searchers spent 12 days looking for Thomas Phillips and his three children on the Waikato’s west coast.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

Police and other searchers spent 12 days looking for Thomas Phillips and his three children on the Waikato’s west coast.

A man has been charged with wasting police time and resources in relation to a search for a father and his three young children on the west coast of the North Island.

The 34-year-old will appear in the Te Kūiti District Court next month in relation to the September search.

A search was mounted for Thomas Phillips and his three young children, Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick, 6, and Ember, 5​, after a vehicle was found abandoned below the tideline on Kiritehere Beach on September 11.

The family reappeared, safe, 18 days later.

The family of four survived in a tent in the dense bush, about 15 kilometres away from the coast. They were not spotted despite an extensive search including search and rescue teams, community volunteers, heat-detecting drones, a helicopter and jet ski.

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The area where Phillips ute was left along Kiritehere Beach on September 11.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

The area where Phillips ute was left along Kiritehere Beach on September 11.

After the return, Tom Phillips’ mother described her grandchildren as “bouncy as ever”, and Waikato West Area Commander Will Loughrin​ said the outcome was “extraordinary,” following a traumatic ordeal for the family and community.

Phillips is yet to speak publicly about their disappearance but apologised to his sister, Roz Pethybridge, saying “sorry for worrying you.”

During the search Loughrin did not confirm whether any charges would be laid, saying police “were working to establish the facts of what happened”.

The man charged will appear in court on November 5, on a charge of causing wasteful deployment of police personnel and resources, a police statement said.

Police would not comment further while the matter was before the courts.

Previously, family lawyer Chris Nicholls said the situation was “very unusual”. He had the legal right, as a father with custody of his children, to take his children into the bush – if he was going on a holiday.

But it all depended on what custody arrangements, or parenting orders, Phillips shared with the mother – and if he was contravening any of those arrangements, Nicholls said.

Or, if he was trying to set up a new life with the children.

“If there was no parenting order, and he was just going on holiday, legally he’s done nothing wrong. Morally is a completely different question, provided he hasn’t deliberately harmed the children,” Nicholls said.

“One parent can’t go and try and change the child’s residence, if he was trying to set up a new life in the bush, that potentially wouldn’t be legal.”

This article first show on www.stuff.co.nz Source link Author Stuff on date 2021-10-12 01:34:44

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