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Long McMurdo investigation yields result

Last updated 05:00 03/12/2013
Lee McMurdo
MURDERED: Lee McMurdo was found dead in his Woodhill home in 2011.

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Two men charged with the murder of Helensville man Lee McMurdo have been found guilty.

John Grant Cuthers, 29, and Andrew Parry Nicholson, 25, were arrested after a 13-month investigation into Mr McMurdo's death.

They were convicted on Friday after a seven-day trial at the High Court in Auckland.

Mr McMurdo was found dead by his then 12-year-old daughter Lateasha at his rural home in Woodhill, 10km south of Helensville, on July 29, 2011.

It is believed he died on the morning of July 27.

The 32-year-old was last seen alive on July 26.

The trial started with Mr Cuthers and Mr Nicholson pleading guilty to the other charges arising in the case - of supplying methamphetamine and taking a car.

Both denied the murder charge.

At the time of his death Mr McMurdo is believed to have been dealing MDVP or "bath salts".

It is a party drug that has been known to have violent side effects on some users overseas.

Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery opened with a summary of what police say happened to Mr McMurdo in the early hours of July 27, 2011.

Mr Raftery says Mr McMurdo was killed after Mr Nicholson and Mr Cuthers visited him on July 26 to supply him some methamphetamine.

Mr McMurdo had begun taking the drug after his business began to struggle and his marriage broke down.

On this occasion he couldn't pay for the drugs.

Instead, he offered the two men some pills to try.

Mr Nicholson refused but Mr Cuthers took some of the drugs, the substance known as MDVP, a stimulant with psychoactive properties.

The pair then left with another friend.

The next the pair were heard from was two days later, when, early on July 28, they turned up at a friend's with a carload of electronics.

The Crown says the property was taken from Mr McMurdo's home when they returned early in the hours of July 27, robbed him and killed him.

After failing to get rid of the stolen goods, the pair travelled north to Mr Nicholson's family property, where they "laid low" for some months, Mr Raftery says.

Meanwhile, back in Auckland, Mr McMurdo's daughter arrived at the home to find her father dead.

Despite her distress, she was able to point out that televisions, an Xbox and other goods were missing from his home.

Mr Raftery says police had little to go on but over the course of a year managed to "put the pieces of the jigsaw together" and eventually arrested Mr Nicholson and Mr Cuthers separately.

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During that time Mr Nicholson made several incriminating statements to different people, Mr Raftery says.

Sentencing is on February 14.

- Rodney Times

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