Putting a name to a FACE

Op Bush sketch. A police compusketch produced on the new FACES facial imaging system played a vital role in securing an arrest and subsequent conviction of a Hawke’s Bay offender.

Operation Bush was launched in early March this year after a man was stabbed in the stomach by an unknown assailant while walking to work along a street in Hastings.

Had members of the public not intervened it is likely he would have died. He subsequently spent four days in hospital due to the seriousness of his injuries.

Later the same day, a woman was confronted at the door of her Hastings home and punched as the attacker tried to force his way in.

The investigation team, led by Detective Sergeant Luke Shadbolt, Hastings CIB, assumed early that the two events were linked.

Detective Jay Mason assisted the investigation by preparing a compusketch based on information provided by the female victim.

“Jay demonstrated great patience and attention to detail and was able to provide an extremely good compusketch likeness of the offender,” says Luke.

“Further enquiries were conducted with staff at the regional hospital psychiatric unit who viewed the compusketch and were able to identify him straight away.”

The suspect was quickly found, interviewed by Hastings CIB members and arrested after admitting his involvement in both attacks.

He was convicted of attempted murder and assault in the Napier High Court in late August.

Luke says the offender was not previously known to police and, with no prior convictions, no comparison photographs existed to help with his identification.

“Due to the good quality of the compusketch the investigation team was able to identify the potential suspect and get an early result.

“Without the compusketch, I believe it would have taken significantly longer to identify the offender, potentially allowing him to commit further offences,” says Luke.

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