View Full Version : Suspicions surround 'death' at sea of wanted yachtsman

14-01-12, 18:36
This story is dated tomorrow 15 Jan 2012:

A Kiwi missing off a yacht in the Pacific is under suspicion of faking his death to escape sex charges.

The man called for help from a yacht about 20 nautical miles south of the Cook Islands on January 3. Rescuers found the 36-foot sloop adrift and abandoned.

Details have since emerged which have led police to question whether the man is genuinely lost at sea.

It has emerged the man was due to appear in the Auckland District Court next month on 27 sex-related charges including rape, for which he has name suppression - the reason he can't be named here.

But it has also emerged the man left New Zealand on a yacht which had been reported stolen. He was also in possession of a large amount of money at the time he disappeared.

Friends of the man - unaware of the sex charges - say he was a highly intelligent man and a careful planner with a life-long dedication to bucking authority.

"He wasn't the sort of guy who would take a risk he wasn't sure of," said the owner of the yacht.

The man, who used the assumed name Gavin Maitland when he arrived at Rarotonga, had been expected to buy the yacht which he later sailed to the Cook Islands.

The yacht owner said the deal had evolved over two years and required "Maitland" to pay $20,000 for the yacht Sojourn out of the sale of his unit in the Auckland suburb of Henderson. The unit was listed for $195,000 and sold in early November.

"Maitland" was meant to use the money to settle the yacht purchase by December 20. When the owner went looking for him, he found "Maitland" and the yacht long gone. He reported it stolen.

Rarotonga harbour master Captain John Cornwell welcomed the yacht, which carried no obvious name, on December 31. "Maitland" introduced himself with his false name, saying he had left New Zealand on November 19.

"I said 'what on earth are you doing in a yacht out in the middle of cyclone season ... you must be crazy'."

Cornwell said the arrival in the harbour was unusual. "Maitland" had sailed into the harbour in contravention of the rule which insists yachties call 24 hours ahead to arrange customs and immigration services.

Cornwell confronted him over the lack of warning which "Maitland" said was necessary. "He said he thought he was having a heart attack."

While waiting for a truck to ferry him to hospital, "Maitland" explained he couldn't produce passport or papers because they had been swept overboard.

"Maitland" told the harbour master he was only stopping off on the way to Tahiti before sailing past Pitcairn to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

"Maitland" returned from hospital saying doctors had confirmed heart trouble. He visited the hospital again on January 1, catching a taxi to an internet cafe before sailing.

Oddly - and honestly - "Maitland" was back on January 2 with money he had forgotten to pay the taxi driver. And then, he was gone again.

At 9.14am on January 3, "Maitland" radioed for help, saying he was having trouble breathing. Two hours later, authorities couldn't raise "Maitland" so sent a patrol boat with a doctor and nurse. They found the yacht abandoned and empty.

Cornwell said "Maitland" had since been reported seen on Rarotonga. There was a reported sighting on January 5 - two days after he was believed to have gone missing.

"If someone had a jet ski, they could have whipped out, picked him up and been back within an hour."

Inspector John Strickland said an ocean search turned up only a raincoat - originally thought to be a lifejacket. The yacht was returned to Rarotonga when it was searched and fingerprinted by police.

Strickland said it was possible "Maitland" had fallen in and become lost. But another sighting had also emerged - although this one suggested "Maitland" had somehow sneaked onto Rarotonga on December 29, two days before entering the harbour.

Asked if they were searching Rarotonga for the missing man, Strickland said: "I will not comment on that at this time."


14-01-12, 18:43
More on this story:

The Auckland man who went missing from a yacht off the Cook Islands had been treated for heart problems just two days before he disappeared.

The man had been solo crewing the yacht Bonny through the Pacific.

After he put out distress calls a Cook Island patrol boat went to the rescue, but in a scene reminiscent of the Mary Celeste, found the yacht floating unmanned 20 nautical miles off the coast of Rarotonga.

It has since been revealed he is believed to be an Auckland businessman facing 27 sex charges, including rape and unlawful sexual conduct.

He is due to appear in Auckland District Court next month and has name suppression.

The Cook Islands News told Fairfax Media the yacht skipper first entered Rarotonga on December 31, having made distress calls complaining of heart palpitations.

When he made it to port he claimed to have lost his passport and documents but was allowed through Customs to get urgent medical treatment.

Tests confirmed he was having a problem with heart and he was told to stay on the island.

He refused and went back his yacht. He returned to the island the next day to collect medicine, then left.

Two days later on January 3 he made further distress calls saying he was once more having heart and breathing difficulties.

He made the first call at 6.45am and every 30 minutes until 9.30am. Authorities lost contact with him around that time.

When Cook Islands patrol boat Te Kukupa, with a doctor and nurse on board, reached the boat around 11.30am it was deserted in calm seas.

Its dinghy was on-board.

Te Kukupa searched for the missing skipper, but only found a lifejacket floating nearby.

Cook Islands police refused to comment on the mystery when contacted by Fairfax Media but had earlier told the Cook Islands News they were contacting the skipper's next of kin.

Calls to the man's home in Henderson went unanswered and his cell phone has been disconnected.
His lawyer was unaware of the new allegations.

The owner of the yacht, an Auckland man, declined to speak.

But a friend of the owner, who did not want to be named, said he understood the missing skipper was a businessman, who took the yacht without permission and sailed it to the Cook Islands.

The friend of the yacht owner said Bonny had been listed for sale on TradeMe and the businessman had been in negotiations to buy it with an agreement where the man would pay for the boat over time _ with $20,000 still owing.

He made alterations on Bonny and said he would pay what was owed once he had sold his Henderson house.
The sale went through in late December, but no more money was paid to the yacht owner.

''He basically didn't show with the money and the boat was gone,'' the friend said.

''I didn't like the guy ever since I met him, he seemed a bit odd and he just didn't seem very genuine to me. So I'm not completely surprised that something's happened but this is a lot more than what we expected.''

It is understood the man did not clear customs before leaving New Zealand.

The friend said the yacht owner received a call from the New Zealand police yesterday, telling him they had his boat in the Cook Islands and there was a warrant out for the businessman's arrest.

The yacht owner was ''unsure on what's going to happen - whether he's going to have to go up there and sail the boat back or what.''

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they had not been contacted about the case.


18-01-12, 00:56

Cook Islands police say they are looking for answers to two big questions surrounding an Auckland man believed to be facing sex-related charges in New Zealand who is missing from a yacht in the islands.

Inspector John Strickland of the Cook Islands police is investigating the man's disappearance two weeks ago, after a mayday call was made from a yacht later found floating empty 20 kilometres off the shore of Rarotonga.

Strickland said: "The biggest question here is, one: is he presumed dead? And two: was there anybody else on board the yacht?"

Police are also following up possible sightings of the man after his disappearance on January 3.

The man is believed to be an Auckland businessman facing 26 sex charges, including rape and unlawful sexual conduct.

He is due to appear in Auckland District Court next month and has name suppression.

[more . . . . ]


18-01-12, 09:41
Friends of the man - unaware of the sex charges - say he was a highly intelligent man and a careful planner with a life-long dedication to bucking authority.

He has my sympathies :D

Would make a great film script :cool:

03-02-12, 07:44
The yacht was purchased in December 2009. The unknow friend of an unknown owner is a bit confused methinks...

The sex charges related to one "girl" who was being "fostered" by the man.
He had been found innocent in two previous trials. The second was initiated by him to apply for guardianship to remove the child from an abusive mother who had 8 children from 4 fathers, at the time of the supposed incidents she was a solo mother who left young children at home while she went to the casino. The third set of charges were laid after long sessions by a physcologist trying to retrieve memories from the girl who was then 15. (Shades of the famous NZ Peter Ellis case)
The charges by a government agency(not police) were bought after he laid a complaint to police about the treatment of the children.

Yes, this mans life would make a great movie.
He was, as stated, an inteligent and well read man.
He had been a colourful character who was about as "straight up" as a man could be. If he saw wrong he spoke up, which annoyed many people.

Will be interesting to see who the Police have decided is his next of kin as his 2nd marriage was to a Korean lady who he split with when she chose to have an abortion of his child which was against his moral beliefs. She returned to Korea. I dont believe they were divorced! This all happening when he was apparently abusing the "girl"

A musician, horseback hunter(ie hunt from horseback), motorbike racer, ex restauranteur, ex talkback host, ex film actor etc etc

Unfortunately those who knew him, believe that he is dead.

I have a copy of his "captains log" up until the time he left Rarotonga. Certainly shows to me his ability as a yachtie.

03-02-12, 13:23
. . . . those who knew him, believe that he is dead.

I have a copy of his "captains log" up until the time he left Rarotonga. Certainly shows to me his ability as a yachtie.

Are you a 'yachtie'? How is your heart? ;)

03-02-12, 17:55
Sounds very much as though there are two sides to this story, as usual. If he is dead then RIP, if not then it seems as though he has planned the escape well.

BP a little high
Gout ok at the moment
Weight rather too much
Acidity managable

My will asks for burial at sea anyway. :D

04-02-12, 07:10
Are you a 'yachtie'? How is your heart? ;)

Na not interested in boats more than 100 metres from the shore.
AM an air person!
Heart is a bit dicky.
But get easily pissed of with media filtering of facts.
What ever happend to balanced journalism?

11-02-12, 18:00
What a strange story-and even stranger response-its an unfortunate truth that the NZ Herald can exagerate some times and get things mixed up.
Never forget the story they spun about the "terrorists"/extremists who occupied a satellite station in NZ because they believed it to be used by the US gov-in some ways fundamental Christians but not extremists.