Courthouse escape: Patched gang member on the run, again

Police are appealing to the public for sightings of William Tuitupou, 48. Photo: NZ Police
Police are appealing to the public for sightings of William Tuitupou, 48. Photo: NZ Police
A patched gang member who took off from a New Zealand courthouse earlier this week is still at large - and it is not the first time he has escaped police custody.

William Tuitupou, 48, managed to walk out of the Auckland District Court on Monday after allegedly pretending to be another prisoner who was being released on bail that morning.

Tuitupou left the court about 11.30am, police said, and now officers are working to review CCTV security footage and door-knocking businesses in the area to try to figure out where he went.

He was last seen wearing pink shorts, green shoes and a white shirt with black and white stripes on the sleeves.

It is not the first time Tuitupou, who has the words "King Cobra" tattooed across his neck, has managed to slip through police and security measures.

In 1997, while being held at the Mt Eden Prison, he made a brazen attempt to escape - and succeeded.

Earlier escape involved using a spanner and a prison bench

An old Herald report described the bold escape: "King Cobra gang associate William Tuitupou escaped after taking a bench apart with a spanner and using the planks to scale a perimeter wall."

He would not be found until two months later, the report said.

Now, 23 years later, police are hunting him yet again and warned the public that he is considered dangerous and should not be approached.

Inspector Grant Tetzlaff confirmed Tuitupou to be a patched member of the King Cobras.

"He has links across Auckland and into other parts of New Zealand.

"We are making a number of inquiries to locate him and these are ongoing."

As a result of Monday's escape, Police and the courts are now working to review the circumstances of the incident and identify exactly how this was able to have happened.

  • Can you help? Call Police immediately on 111 or anonymously on CrimeStoppers: 0800 555 111










Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter