Police believe missing Tauranga man Harley Shrimpton, last seen at McDonalds in Mount Maunganui on November 3, may have been the victim of foul play. Photo / NZ Police
The identity of a man accused of kidnapping missing Tauranga man Harley Shrimpton has been suppressed.
Police earlier said in a statement that Shrimpton, 28, was last seen getting into a blue Toyota Prius in the McDonald’s carpark in Mount Maunganui on the afternoon of November 3.
Police also said the Toyota Prius was taken the day before from Bellevue in the Tauranga area and had since been recovered.
Shrimpton was reported missing by family members on November 17.
A 21-year-old man faced charges of kidnapping, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and driving while forbidden when he appeared before Community Magistrate Lesley Jensen in the Tauranga District Court today.
Court charging documents show that police allege Shrimpton was “unlawfully taken away with his consent obtained under duress” with the intent to confine him.
The charge of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle relates to the Toyota Prius, valued at $7000, that Shrimpton was last seen getting into.
Defence lawyer Nicholas Dutch sought interim name suppression for the defendant, stating publication “may prejudice his fair trial rights” given there was an active police investigation.
Police have opposed the defendant being granted bail.
Community Magistrate Jensen granted interim name suppression and remanded the defendant in custody to appear before a Tauranga District Court judge on December 6.
No pleas to the charges have yet been entered.
In an earlier statement, Bay of Plenty field crime manager Detective Inspector Lindsay Pilbrow said police still held “significant concerns” for Shrimpton’s wellbeing and had made “extensive inquiries to locate him”.
“Due to these circumstances, and a lack of other sightings, police believe Mr Shrimpton may have been the victim of foul play,” Pilbrow said.
“We are seeking any information from the public in relation to Mr Shrimpton’s disappearance, or current location. We’re also seeking sightings of the blue Prius from November 2 until November 5,” he said,
“Mr Shrimpton’s family are extremely distressed by his disappearance, and desperate to locate him and bring him home.”
Pilbrow also earlier confirmed that the police had searched several properties in Western Bay of Plenty with the assistance of specialist squads and forensic experts on November 30 and December 1.
He said a “number of people” knew what happened, including the circumstances around Shrimpton’s disappearance and his current location.
“We’re appealing to those people to contact us directly, confidentially if necessary, to provide any information they may have that could assist.”
Previously, Shrimpton’s family told the Bay of Plenty Times they were ‘”absolutely devastated” and had major concerns for the young man.
“This is an extremely hard time for our family. We’re doing everything we can to find Harley. On behalf of the family, we appreciate the community’s support in trying to help locate Harley and his whereabouts,” Shrimpton’s cousin said.
“We aren’t 100 per cent sure, but it’s highly likely Harley was wearing long black jeans, a white T-shirt and a black cap.”
Harley’s cousin said the police had been “amazing” with the investigation so far and were keeping in contact regularly. “We appreciate their support.”
Pilbrow said the investigation would continue until Shrimpton was found and those responsible for his disappearance held to account.
Information can be passed to police via the 105 phone service, or by going online to https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105 and using “Update Report”, referencing file number 231117/9085.
Alternatively, information can be passed to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-nz.org