Hitch-hiker charged with Tokaanu murder

Police have charged a 21-year-old Auckland man with the murder of an elderly Tokaanu man three weeks ago.

The alleged offender was initially charged with assault after Gordon Tunnicliffe, 64, was found seriously injured near his home on April 14.

Mr Tunnicliffe, who lived alone, was airlifted to Waikato Hospital and later transferred to Cranford Hospice, Hastings where he died on April 28, two weeks after the incident.

Neighbours believed alleged offender was hitch-hiking and was offered a lift by Mr Tunnicliffe, who had also offered the man a place to sleep for the night.

The man left the house but returned later to the house when an argument developed between the pair.

Bay of Plenty crime manager Detective Inspector Mark Loper said the accused had now been charged with murder following an autopsy report.

The offender was remanded in custody when he appeared at Taupo District Court facing the assault charge on April 24.

He was due to appear again this week at Taupo District Court charged with murder.

Mr Tunnicliffe's family had been told of the murder charge, Mr Loper said.

Police were working closely with the family to keep them informed, he said.

The Dominion Post