Three Charged Over Alleged Kidnapping Of Two Women And Children In Ootha
Three men have been charged over the alleged domestic-related arson and kidnapping that occurred in central western NSW on Tuesday.
Police were called to a property on Henry Parkes Way in Ootha, NSW at 11am on Tuesday morning following reports a man had been assaulted and his home set alight.
Police will allege three men broke into the property, and allegedly assaulted a 68-year-old man, bound him and knocked him unconscious. The man's 71-year-old partner, his 41-year-old daughter and two boys aged 13 and 14 were kidnapped from the property in a four- wheeled drive by a 44-year-old man.
A 23-year-old man and a 29-year-old man then allegedly set the property alight before leaving.
"Those individuals then poured 20 litres of accelerant inside the house and set the house alight. It was then they left the premises, locking the front gate," Acting NSW Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith told media on Wednesday.
Extraordinarily, the 68-year-old was able to break free from his bindings and escape the burning home. He travelled to a neighbour at least a kilometre away on foot to raise the alarm.
"The 68-year-old I think is extraordinary," Smith said.
"He fell in and out of consciousness a number of times throughout the four-hour ordeal. He received head injuries through the assault. I think hats off to, obviously, his bravery in terms of what he did next, which was, he thought of the others and alerted neighbours."
The two vehicles then drove along Putty Road, with the 44-year-old man holding the victims at gunpoint and assaulting them in one vehicle. The car containing the hostages stopped and the 71-year-old woman and the two teenage boys took their chance to escape. They managed to reach a close property and call police.
At some point during the afternoon, Police issued an Amber Alert for the two boys, which was circulated by local media.
The 44-year-old driver then continued with the 41-year-old woman. At this stage, police had started following the second car, containing the 23-year-old and 29-year-old alleged attackers. They engaged with police vehicles and tried to run them over.
On Tuesday afternoon, Police had managed to locate the older woman and the two boys and the 23-year-old and 29-year-old males had been arrested. Searches continued for the second vehicle with the 44-year-old man and the younger of the two women.
The pair were located at 11.30pm on Tuesday evening in bushland near Blaxlands Ridge with the help of thermal imagining technology.
"...they were located through thermal imaging. At that time of night and that dense bushland ... it would be almost virtually impossible to engage without the assistance of highly trained tactical police, the dog squad and Polair," Smith said.
On Wednesday, the three men were charged with a number of serious offences including setting fire to a dwelling with intent to murder, four counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of special aggravated kidnapping, one count of special aggravated break and enter, and also using weapon to avoid apprehension.
"It is expected that further charges may be expected to be laid against these three males and a number of inquiries are still being made and investigative searches and inquiry also be conducted today," Detective Superintendent Daniel Doherty told media on Wednesday.
Police also believe domestic violence was a major motivator for the alleged crime.
"Domestic violence is one of the factors. We know that five days ago the 41-year-old woman and the boys travelled to Condoblin to be with parents. Obviously to escape a deteriorating relationship. We will be alleging in court that obviously domestic violence is one of the elements of this offence," Smith said.
The five victims are in good health, according to police.
All three men will face Penrith Local Court on Wednesday.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 000. If you need help and advice, call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. A range of domestic and family violence resources based around the country can be found here.
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