Retiring detective recalls long career

Wanaka detective Dave Evans with two of the helmets he once wore. Photo by Mark Price.
Wanaka detective Dave Evans with two of the helmets he once wore. Photo by Mark Price.
If you remember being drunk and threatening in the Invercargill pie cart 37 and a-half years ago and running away when arrested by a young policeman, it is probably safe enough now to own up.

Retiring Wanaka detective Dave Evans holds no grudges.

Det Evans recalled to the Otago Daily Times with a laugh yesterday that the man, who had been wielding a plastic knife, ''legged it'' as they left the pie cart. That was in 1975 at the start of a police career that has brought Det Evans into contact with many of the major crimes committed in the lower half of the South Island.

One of a family of seven children, Det Evans was born in Balclutha in 1955.

He attended South Otago High School then spent a year at the University of Otago.

It was while socialising in Dunedin he met then police officer, the late Gordon Hunter, who suggested the police force might be an option for him.

''He was always the man I credited with joining the police.''

After three months of training at Trentham, Det Evans took up the offer of a uniformed position in Invercargill where he spent most of his working years until arriving in Wanaka five years ago.

Det Evans recalls his time in one of the team policing units during the 1981 Springbok tour and having his jaw broken before the final test in Auckland.

''I ended up on the ground and got my head stomped. My helmet and visor were smashed.''

Det Evans said his police officer fiancee Sue was not impressed with his appearance after the attack as they were due to be married two weeks later.

In 1982 he joined the Invercargill CIB, his first job investigating the robbery of the Lumsden BNZ where two men got away with $106,000. One was later murdered in Auckland.

Det Evans is philosophical about the justice system and about police sometimes losing cases.

He considers police ''servants of the court'' with the job of presenting it with evidence.

''It's not about getting convictions. We don't get bonuses for convicting people.''

Since moving from Invercargill to Wanaka, Det Evans has had less to do with gangs but had plenty of work on fraud and drug cases.

He said Wanaka had an upsurge in the use of class A drugs such as LSD and ecstasy during the ski season but the biggest problem was alcohol.

Det Evans finishes on January 3 and hopes to find non-police work in Wanaka.

mark.price@odt.co.nz