Otago Daily Times

Man ac­quit­ted in NZ Cracked road con­trib­uted to ac­ci­dent, coro­ner says linked to tor­ture cell

- Crime · Incidents · New Zealand · Wellington, New Zealand · Netherlands · Miramar, FL · Rotterdam · Greater Auckland · Rome · Linfox · Northland Region · Towai · Whangarei

WELLINGTON: A man who was ac­quit­ted of mur­der in Wellington is now a sus­pect in a case in­volv­ing a makeshift tor­ture cham­ber in the Nether­lands.

Wil­liam Jan Haanstra (43) was ac­quit­ted of mur­der­ing Terri King, whose body was found in the Tararua Ranges in 1999.

He is now one of nine peo­ple ar­rested by Dutch po­lice, af­ter they dis­cov­ered seven ship­ping con­tain­ers con­verted into a makeshift prison and a sound­proofed ‘‘tor­ture cham­ber’’ while in­ves­ti­gat­ing gang ac­tiv­ity.

The cham­ber came with a den­tist’s chair and tools in­clud­ing pli­ers, scalpels and hand­cuffs.

In 1999, the then­22­year­old Haanstra was liv­ing in Mi­ra­mar with his fam­ily, who had em­i­grated to New Zealand from the Nether­lands.

He was charged over the mur­der of Terri King, whose body had been found in the Tararua ranges with a gun­shot wound to the back of his head, but was ac­quit­ted by a jury af­ter a twom­onth trial in the High Court at Wellington.

Cor­re­spon­dent Stephanie van den Berg told Morn­ing Re­port the po­lice re­vealed in April that they had hacked into the en­crypted mes­sag­ing sys­tem of an or­gan­ised crime net­work.

That al­lowed po­lice to see what crim­i­nals were plan­ning and one of the things they dis­cov­ered was that peo­ple were chat­ting about this tor­ture cham­ber, she said.

In July, po­lice dis­cov­ered the seven ship­ping con­tain­ers, one of which con­tained a tor­ture cham­ber and re­leased video of it.

‘‘This is re­ally like a hor­ror movie tor­ture cham­ber, where it’s all sound­proofed, there’s a den­tist chair bolted to the floor, there’s hand­cuffs hang­ing from the ceil­ing and they found a whole ar­ray of in­stru­ments which they think would have been used for tor­ture, which in­clude gar­den shears, pin­cers, ham­mers, scalpels, saws, gas burn­ers — it’s re­ally quite hor­rific when you see the arsenal of weapons that they have,’’ van den Berg said.

The sus­pects have al­ready been in court for a pro­ce­dural hear­ing and said the tor­ture cham­ber was only for show and meant to scare peo­ple off but that they did not in­tend us­ing it.

The po­lice have said that the sus­pects were send­ing each other mes­sages about po­ten­tial vic­tims that they wanted to kid­nap and take to the cham­ber and they stepped in to warn those tar­gets.

Haanstra is not one of those sus­pected of build­ing the tor­ture cham­ber and has been char­ac­terised as a ca­reer crim­i­nal by Dutch me­dia, van den Berg said.

Haanstra has also been linked to a 2008 Rot­ter­dam cold case mur­der.

‘‘He was . . . a sus­pect but also ac­quit­ted or let go by the po­lice for lack of ev­i­dence.’’

She said there are re­ports that the fam­ily of the Rot­ter­dam vic­tim is hop­ing the case will be re­opened now Haanstra is in custody, and peo­ple will come for­ward.

The Dutch po­lice ex­pect many other crim­i­nal cases to come to light as a re­sult of the con­ver­sa­tions they man­aged to hack. — RNZ

AUCK­LAND: A coro­ner has found a cracked road in North­land was partly re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of two Span­ish tourists in De­cem­ber 2009.

Eva Fa­jula Rovira and Joan Roma Serra, both 34 years old, were hit and killed when a Lin­fox truck and trailer driven by Ioane Etuale crossed the cen­tre line on State High­way 1 at Towai, north of Whangarei.

An in­quiry had been held into the deaths pre­vi­ously; an­other was sched­uled so Etuale could give ev­i­dence.

Coro­ner Peter Ryan found the un­even, cracked road caused the truck’s front wheels to bounce, caus­ing a loss of con­tact with the road sur­face mo­men­tar­ily. With­out the front wheels touch­ing the road, Etuale was un­able to steer the truck.

At the time, the truck was tak­ing a slight bend in the road. With­out his steer­ing, Etuale braked heav­ily but crossed the cen­tre line into the path of the on­com­ing camper van the two tourists were in, killing them.

Se­ri­ous Crash Unit ev­i­dence was that from the mo­ment of the truck’s ‘‘bounce’’ un­til im­pact was pos­si­bly three sec­onds, with a stan­dard re­ac­tion time for a driver to per­ceive a hazard of 1.5sec, leav­ing an­other 1.5sec for ei­ther driver to take action.

There was a bank on the left­hand side of the road which meant the camper van, driven by Roma Serra, could not drive off the road to avoid the col­li­sion.

The Transport Agency pro­vided a re­port on the sec­tion of the road that said the un­even pave­ment ‘‘caused quite no­tice­able wheel bounce in ve­hi­cles with less so­phis­ti­cated sus­pen­sion set­ups, such as trucks and trail­ers’’.

Etuale had driven the road on sev­eral other oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing four days be­fore this crash,

Mr Ryan con­tin­ued.

‘‘I con­sider that the most likely ex­pla­na­tion for the cause of this crash is a com­bi­na­tion of mo­men­tary un­pre­pared­ness by Mr Etuale at the crit­i­cal mo­ment when his truck en­tered the sec­tion of un­even sur­face . . . Mr Etuale was un­pre­pared for the bounce and its ef­fect on the truck,’’ he said.

‘‘The con­di­tion of the road was a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the crash, as it ad­versely af­fected the han­dling of trucks. Not­with­stand­ing this, all other truck driv­ers had been able to cope with the con­di­tion of the road as there had been no re­ported crashes at the scene prior to this crash.’’

Etuale was charged fol­low­ing the crash with op­er­at­ing a ve­hi­cle care­lessly caus­ing death. He was ac­quit­ted in court, af­ter the district court ac­cepted ev­i­dence he and an­other driver gave that the truck had an ‘‘in­ter­mit­tent steer­ing fault’’.

The in­quest made no such find­ings, stat­ing that the ‘‘loss of steer­ing’’ Etuale ex­pe­ri­enced was not a sud­den me­chan­i­cal fault but rather his front wheels hav­ing no con­tact with the road, al­low­ing the steer­ing wheel to turn with no re­sis­tance. — RNZ

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