Theft charge from missing man is dropped
A charge alleging theft of a laptop from a man who has now been missing for nearly three years has been dismissed after police decided they did not have enough evidence.
Dion Louvain Lawrence, appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday in relation to a charge alleging theft of a laptop belonging to Richard Hinkley, days after reporting him missing on February 10, 2016.
The charge was dismissed after police decided they did not have enough evidence.
The Press can now report that Lawrence was jailed in 2005 for three years and eight months for robbing a bank, assaulting police and resisting arrest.
Christchurch District Court Judge Colin Doherty said that while Lawrence was on bail for the latter offences, which included spitting in an officer’s face, he committed the bank robbery at Westpac’s Stanmore Rd branch.
Lawrence told a teller he had a concealed shotgun and threatened to ‘‘blow his head off’’ if he did not hand over money. Lawrence got about $2500, the judge said.
When confronted by police, Lawrence immediately admitted the offending.
Lawrence also has robbery and assault convictions, and several for dishonesty and drivingrelated offending.
He had been diagnosed with a serious psychiatric illness and told the Probation Service the robbery was a ‘‘knee-jerk reaction’’ to a relationship break-up, the judge said.
It was Lawrence’s third robbery in 15 years and the second within five years.
Lawrence told The Press in January that police searched his home shortly before Christmas
2017. He said police took him to a police station and told him they believed he had murdered his neighbour. He said police had also dug up his garden.
‘‘I’ve got no idea what happened. [Hinkley] could’ve left the country for all I know.’’
‘‘[Police] think I had some big falling out with him, but I didn’t really.
‘‘Other people certainly did; I don’t know why they aren’t investigating them.’’
‘‘I reported him missing, I don’t know if that has something to do with it.
‘‘I don’t know been talking.’’
Lawrence declined further yesterday.
Police said in January if people have to comment that they were investigating the possibilities of foul play or self harm being involved in Hinkley’s disappearance, but were keeping an open mind about what had happened to him.
The burglary charge against Lawrence was withdrawn on May 22 this year, and replaced with a charge alleging theft of the laptop, worth between $500 and $1000.
Lawrence denied the charge and a judge-alone trial was set for the Christchurch District Court yesterday, but police did not want the hearing to go ahead.
Defence counsel Donald Matthews said police wanted to withdraw the charge – which would allow it to be laid again – but he asked the judge to dismiss it.
The police prosecutor told Judge Stephen O’Driscoll that the complainant had been missing since the alleged incident happened.
There had been a ‘‘substantial investigation’’ to find him, but he had not been located.
Police had believed there was circumstantial evidence to prove the theft case, but there wasn’t.
They wanted the judge to allow the charge to be withdrawn because it meant there would be a strong case to answer if Hinkley was to ‘‘resurface’’. However, without his presence and evidence as a witness there was insufficient evidence to pursue the charge.
Judge O’Driscoll indicated the matter had gone too far for a withdrawal.
‘‘I don’t think it’s fair to have the possibility of a charge hanging over his head and not able to proceed. Because you are offering no evidence, the charge is dismissed.’’
Anyone with information about Hinkley’s disappearance is asked to contact Christchurch police on 03 363 7400 or can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Dion Louvain Lawrence