UPDATE @ August 17, 11.30 AM: The man accused of murdering Australian tourist Sean McKinnon in a violent carjacking in New Zealand will remain behind bars.
The 23-year-old, who can’t be named for legal reasons, appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Saturday, charged with murder, robbery causing grievous bodily harm, threatening to kill, and driving while disqualified.
He was taken into custody at a rural property in Waikato around 11.00pm last night following a major manhunt.
McKinnon’s older sister, Emmeline McKinnon spoke outside court a short time ago, describing the heartbreak the family is going through.
“We love him very deeply. We were devastated to hear that his life had been taken from him,” she said.
“We just don’t even know how to begin to put life together.”
She said their priority now is Mr McKinnon’s fiancée Bianca Buckley, who managed to run for her life after the gunman stormed their campervan in in Raglan around 3.20am Friday.
“I cannot even begin to understand what she’s gone through. She’s a really strong young woman,” she said.
“We’re just really glad she’s alive.”
The man has been remanded in custody, to reappear in court on August 27.
EARLIER @ August 17, 8.00 AM: A MAN has been arrested over the murder of an Australian tourist who was shot dead in a violent carjacking in New Zealand.
Armed police swarmed a rural property in Waikato around 11.00pm last night after receiving a tip-off from a member of the public, where they took a 23-year-old local man into custody.
He’s since been charged with murder, aggravated robbery and threaten to kill and will appear in the Hamilton District Court later this morning.
Victorian man Shaun McKinnon was asleep in a campervan in Raglan with his Canadian fiancée Bianca Buckley, when they were woken by a man banging on their window around 3.20am Friday.
It’s alleged the gunman demanded the keys to the van before shooting the 33-year-old Australian tourist, in what police say was a “tragic random attack.”
His fiancée managed to escape and ran for her life to a nearby farmhouse where she raised the alarm with police.
The gunman then travelled 80 kilometres in the stolen van with the Australian man’s body still inside, before dumping the vehicle and fleeing, sparking the major manhunt.
New Zealand Police say the female victim is “shocked and traumatised” but is thankful an arrest has been made in 24 hours.
The family of Mr McKinnon has also been spoken to by Police this morning and advised of the arrest.
“This is a traumatic time for his family and his partner and the New Zealand Police we will do everything we can to provide them with support they need,” Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.
“I want to thank those in our community who contacted Police with information and assisted us with our investigation.”
“We know this was an alarming incident that shocked people right across New Zealand and overseas.”
“We want to reassure the community that the safety of our community is our priority and we will do everything we can to find those responsible for serious crimes and hold them to account.”
EARLIER @ August 16: AN Australian tourist has been shot dead and his girlfriend has been forced to run for her life after a gunman stole their campervan in New Zealand.
New Zealand Police have confirmed the pair were sleeping in their van in Raglan, when they were woken by a man banging on their window around 3.20am Friday.
The man demanded the keys to the van before shooting the 33-year-old Australian tourist, in what police have descried as a random attack.
“This is a tragic incident, inquiries indicate that this is a random attack,” Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.
“It is concerning to have an armed offender outstanding but I want to reassure the public we are working hard to identify and locate the offender.”
The man’s 32-year-old Canadian girlfriend miraculously managed to escape and phoned police from a nearby location.
A major manhunt is currently underway in Waikato, with the gunman still at large.
The stolen van, a 2017 white Toyota Hiace, was found on Gordonton Road around 8am this morning with the Australian man’s body inside.
Police say they are currently working to notify his family.
Officers are assisting the woman, who they say is shocked and distressed.