Champagne, oysters and a helicopter ride: New Zealand fugitive surrenders to police in style

James Bryant, who faces charges including assault, wanted “to come out in style”

<p>Police investigate a property in Dunedin, New Zealand on 16 March, 2019. </p>

Police investigate a property in Dunedin, New Zealand on 16 March, 2019.

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A man in New Zealand hired a helicopter and had a meal of oysters with champagne before surrendering himself to the police after being on the run for five weeks.

James Matthew Bryant (32) faces charges including assault, posting harmful digital communications and wounding with reckless disregard.

Mr Bryant hired a helicopter with the help of his advocate and former career criminal Arthur Taylor to be retrieved from Otago where he was hiding.

“He wanted to come out in style,” Mr Taylor told Stuff.nz.

Mr Bryant paid for the helicopter, later telling local media that “I didn't go put in taxpayer money into the business”.

Mr Taylor, who is currently on parole, said they had a meal of oysters and champagne at his house in the city of Dunedin before going to the police station. “It was his first decent meal in weeks,” he said.

Mr Bryant turned himself in at the Dunedin central police station on Thursday, accompanied by his advocate.

Before surrendering, he told reporters that his weeks on the run had been “great” and he had done a lot of yoga.

Mr Bryant had been on the run for about three weeks before appearing on a news show as a wanted criminal. When he heard that an informant had told the police of his location, he headed to an open-access hunter’s hut in the Waianakarua Scenic Reserve, according to The New York Times.

Mr Bryant told the advocate that he had decided to surrender because he was worried that the police had termed him as dangerous and warned the public.

Mr Taylor also told Stuff that Mr Bryant hesitated before surrendering and asked for his help. “I guess he’s seen a few movies where they jump out with guns and that sort of stuff,” he said.

The two knew each other from before when Mr Bryant helped Mr Taylor with his website.

The lawyer told the NYT that things could have ended nasty if his client hadn’t decided to charter his own helicopter and if police was forced to walk for two days to retrieve him from the hut.

“They’d have been very angry police. From having hiked all that time, they’d be armed to the teeth, anything could have happened. A very volatile situation,” he said.

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