Nuku'alofa, Tonga : After a five hour stand-off a Tonga Police Search and Rescue boat was forced to pull out of a pursuit of the yacht Sea Oak late this afternoon
, after fugitive murder suspect Dean Jay Fletcher had fired several flares at the small police boat and threatened to set fire to it in northwest Vava'u waters, following his escape from custody in Neiafu.
A Police statement issued at 6:53pm said Police were forced to pull out of a pursuit of the yacht 'Sea Oak' at 4.30pm today.
“The escaped prisoner, Dean Jay Fletcher (54) had fired several flares at the police boat in a five hour standoff. Fletcher was believed to be holding a bottle of benzene liquid and threatened to set fire to the police boat with the use of the inflammable benzene and flares.”
The police were not in a position to counter the threat and did not have the capacity to maintain the pursuit in open water.
Commissioner Steve Caldwell said, “The decision made by the police officers, to end the pursuit in all the circumstances was the right one, and now our energy goes into locating this desperate man and returning him to face justice for the charge of murder”.
International police services, Maritime networks and commercial flights have been alerted.
Police are appealing for public assistance on sightings of the yacht 'Sea Oak'.
Fletcher was due to appear in court in Tonga on October 10 on murder charges relating to the death of his wife in Vava'u in July.
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