Police charge man with wasting their time

2011-01-13 07:22

Wellington – A New Zealand man who sparked an intensive two-day land, sea and air search after apparently disappearing while diving for shellfish was charged today with wasting police time.

Yesterday evening, Colin Smithies (49) walked into a police station at Clive on the east coast of the North Island, 285 kilometres from Titahi Bay near Wellington, where he had sent a text message to his wife 48 hours earlier saying he had found a good spot to dive.

His wife raised the alarm when he did not return four hours later, and about 40 searchers, including police divers and ground parties, combed the area for two days after his backpack and car were found near the Titahi Bay beach.

Detective Sergeant Donna Howard said Smithies had hitchhiked across the island and was “disorientated and quite distressed” when he arrived at Clive.

She said the reasons for the disappearance of the father of three were between him and his family, who had been put through a great deal of trauma.

“Obviously, Mr Smithies has some issues he is dealing with, and I’d like to leave it at that,” she said. “I think perhaps that we’ve referred him to medical professionals may give you a good indication of where he’s at.”

Howard said Smithies, a senior economist with the national business watchdog Commerce Commission, would be charged in court.

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