Callister Street residents shocked over raid

By Myles Peterson

Shepparton found itself at the centre of a national man-hunt on Wednesday night following suspicious packages appearing in the mail of embassies and consulates across Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

Callister St residents expressed their shock at discovering a joint Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police operation had raided a house in their street and arrested Savas Avan, 49.

Mr Avan faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Resident and shift-worker Jarrod Currie said he found nothing unusual about his neighbour, bar some late-night phone conversations.

‘‘He’s only been there a couple of months. I’ve lived here for a couple of years. I have sort of seen him walking around the front of his house talking on his phone at two or three o’clock in the morning,’’ Mr Currie said.

The neighbour first assumed the raid was drug related.

‘‘Callister St is a pretty quiet street. So, when I got up today to find police in blue asbestos suits and breathing apparatus — just because of the ice epidemic, my first thought was ice.’’

Mr Currie was shocked to learn the raid related to a national news story he had been following.

‘‘All those packages on the news yesterday. Wow. To think that’s right across from my house,’’ he said.

Another neighbour, Anna Karney, said she did not take much notice of the incident and also assumed it was drug related following a recent methamphetamine bust several doors down.

The 16-year resident also said bar the odd traffic incident, the street was largely quiet.

The raid followed police recovering 29 packages destined for embassies and consulates including those of the United Kingdom, United States and India in Melbourne. A total of 38 packages were being sought.

A joint statement from the AFP and Victoria Police said there was no ongoing threat to the public.

‘‘Forensic testing (will) be undertaken on (the packages) to determine the exact composition of the material in them,’’ the statement read.

‘‘Police have identified intended recipients and have put processes in place to recover the outstanding packages.’’

The arrest came mere hours after the first media reports of the packages emerged and the AFP thanked Australia Post.

‘‘The assistance of Australia Post has been crucial to the outcome of this investigation.’’

Reports the arrest is linked to police searches conducted between Shepparton and Mooroopna between Sunday and Wednesday, including the use of a police helicopter, have been denied by the AFP.

Victoria Police is still refusing to comment on the nature of those searches.

‘‘Police have been in the Shepparton area as part on an ongoing investigation. It would not be appropriate to provide further details at this time,’’ a spokesperson said.