Man charged with medal thefts

A New Zealand man who flew back from Australia voluntarily to face charges of stealing more than 800 medals from Waiouru Army Museum made a brief appearance in court today.

Keith Davies, 57, appeared in Wellington District Court charged with the theft of 395 medal groups comprising 843 individual medals, obtaining property by deception, false accounting and unlawfully exporting New Zealand antiquities.

The medals have a combined estimated value of more that $256,000.

His arrest followed raids on a property in Queensland, Australia and Davies flew back to New Zealand today.

An application for name suppression for 72 hours so that he could inform his family in New Zealand was declined by Judge Ian Mill, who said Davies had known about the proceedings for some time and had had time to tell his family.

Any name suppression would cast unfair suspicion on army personnel and employees of Waiouru Army Museum.

Davies was remanded on bail to Wellington address on condition he surrender his passport and will reappear in the same court on September 22.

Earlier, Detective Senior Sergeant Keith Borrell said the investigation into Davies had been going on for more than a year and he was spoken to by Australian police last month.

Mr Borrell said police have recovered 300 medals.

"I can confirm that the investigation extended beyond the original complaint of theft that was received in June last year. The thefts are believed to have taken place between 1995 and 2002, they are not linked to previous incidents of theft at the museum and do not involve anyone currently employed by the museum.''


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