Relief over murder arrest in Ashburton

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012
Sina Solomona

"SWEET, LOVING, HAPPY LADY": Sina Solomona embraced life but hers was cut short early on Saturday.

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Ashburton residents are relieved at news of an arrest for the murder of Sina Solomona, saying they did not want "another Kirsty Bentley" case.

A boy appeared in the Youth Court yesterday charged with Solomona's murder after being interviewed by police on Wednesday. He was remanded in custody to reappear on January 14.

Solomona was killed in her Cass St home between 2.20am and 2.40am on Saturday. The 22-year-old mother suffered blunt trauma and blade injuries to her head, face and throat.

Police yesterday continued searching several properties in Ashburton for evidence and a second home in the town remained cordoned. Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae, head of the Solomona murder investigation, said the arrest "came really unexpectedly".

Rae said the arrest had given police a clear direction in the investigation, which was continuing.

Neighbours said the cordon was set up on Wednesday afternoon and a ute that was parked on the street had been seized for forensic testing.

A third property was understood to have been searched on Wednesday night.

Ashburton residents yesterday said the death had shaken the town, which is approaching the 15th anniversary of the high-profile murder of teenager Kirsty Bentley.

Bentley, 15, disappeared on New Year's Eve, 1998, while walking her dog along the banks of the Ashburton River. Her body was found 18 days later about 40 kilometres out of the town.

The case remains unsolved.

Resident Glynis Tarbotton said it was "good to have an arrest".

"[We] can't believe it's our little town, again, near Christmas, with the Kirsty Bentley case," she said.

"I can actually get out of my car at half past two in the morning from work and not have a look around to see if anybody's around and just go inside. I take my hat off to [police]. I just feel sorry for the family."

Retiree Janice Bota said the arrest was good news.

"We didn't want another Kirsty Bentley, did we?" she said.

"It's a bit of a shame really, on Christmas . . . The poor girl, no-one deserves that."

Rose Leonard said the killing had affected the town, but not quite in the same way as the Bentley murder.

"That really shook us up. The difference is she went missing. It took a few days to find her."

Mother-of-three Michele Strange said the community was saddened by the murder, especially for the family. "It is a relief to have someone put in custody for it," she said. "We are such a small town and a small community, so it's pretty close to everyone's hearts. We have had Kirsty Bentley prior to that, we still haven't found the person responsible for that."

Solomona's funeral will be held tomorrow at the Baring Square Methodist Church Hall in Ashburton.

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