Police warn AWOL mental health clients should not be approached

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MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand Police – Police warn AWOL mental health clients should not be approached

UPDATE: AWOL pair recovered.

Waikato Police are seeking the public’s help in locating two men who absconded from a mental health facility and warn they should not be approached.

Benjamin Manuel.
Benjamin Manuel.

Senior Sergeant Andrew O’Reilly of the Waikato District Command Centre said 28-year-old Benjamin Thomas MANUEL and 21-year-old Morgan HAMIORA-SMITH were reported absent without leave from the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre on Selwyn St about 9.23pm yesterday.

“Both men were being treated as in-patients under mental health legislation before they absconded.

“The pair were reported to Police as having climbed a fence at the centre and fled and were seen walking down Selwyn and then Alison Streets. Both had red school backpack bags on their backs.”

Morgan Haimona Smith.
Morgan Haimona Smith.

Mr O’Reilly said reports from members of the public who encountered them suggested the pair intended to hitch-hike out of the City overnight, possibly heading to Thames.

MANUEL is described as a male Maori of medium build about 172cm tall while HAMIORA-SMITH is a male Maori of medium build and about 180cm tall.

“Both are known to have contacts throughout the Waikato and Bay of Plenty with MANUEL having links to the Whakatäne, Kawerau and Tokoroa areas.

“Advice from medical staff suggest neither man poses specific risk to the public however both have a history of violence and Police advise the public not to approach them but to ring 111 if they are seen.”

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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