Murdered Korean backpacker's body found

MISSING: Korean visitor Jae Hyeon Kim has not been seen for four years.
MISSING: Korean visitor Jae Hyeon Kim has not been seen for four years.

A man was today committed for trial for the murder of Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim as police hope to recover his body tomorrow.

Justices of the Peace found a prima facie case had been made against former Nelson fisherman Shannon Brent Flewellen, 29, after a three-day depositions hearing in Greymouth District Court.

He entered a not guilty plea as he was committed in custody for trial in the High Court in Christchurch.

The committal concluded a hearing which started with dramatic scenes as armed police guarded the court against fears of skinhead protests when three men faced charges on Monday.

Yesterday a 31-year-old man, whose name is suppressed, pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Kim at Charleston, near Westport, in September or October 2003.

He was committed for sentence at the High Court in Wellington in December.

On Monday another man admitted there was a prima facie case against him, but the charge, which he denied, and other details have been suppressed. He was remanded to appear in the High Court at Christchurch on November 21.

Detective Inspector John Winter said this morning police expect to exhume the remains of Mr Kim from the Four Mile River area near Charleston, south of Westport, tomorrow.

Mr Kim's parents had been told about the discovery of a gravesite via the Korean consulate.

Yesterday an associate of Flewellen told the court he had confessed to killing and decapitating 25-year-old Mr Kim with a spade, after picking him up as he was hitchhiking at the Four Mile River bridge in October 2003.

A Nazi link emerged early in the hearing when the Crown alleged that Flewellen throttled Mr Kim and then held his foot on his throat until he was dead, while his associate spoke a Nazi phrase "Nein blut", meaning "no blood".

Yesterday, two women, former associates of Flewellen, gave evidence.

The first said Flewellen confessed to her that he and two others had murdered an Asian hitchhiker.

"He told me they picked up an Asian backpacker and they killed him. He said he (Flewellen) was with two others.

"Shannon said he stood on his (Mr Kim's) throat with his boot and cut his head off with a spade."

The witness believed it was only Flewellen who carried out the murder, but agreed there was nothing said about what the others involved had done.

"He was relaxed when he was telling us -- like he had just changed his socks or something."

She claimed to have seen Flewellen burn someone's personal belongings in the fire.

"It was jeans and undies and a brown wallet or passport, but I didn't get a clear look at them."

The second witness said she had noticed a change in the way Flewellen presented himself in 2003. He cut his hair down to the skin, changed a tattoo on his body and shaved his eyebrows.

She also said that she had had discussions with Flewellen about Hitler and the war, and his belief in the "Aryan race and keeping things pure".

A Nelson detective told the court today that he interviewed Flewellen about the murder.

Bruce Alan McLaughlin said he asked the accused about a missing Asian tourist and asked if he knew anything about it.

Flewellen told him he was only being spoken to because he (Flewellen) was a skinhead.

"The accused declined to give his side of the story when he was asked and said he knew nothing about what I was talking about."

When he was shown a picture of Mr Kim he said he had never seen him before, adding that "they all look the same".

Flewellen was formally charged with the murder and taken to the Nelson police station.

"I spoke to him at the cells at the station and when I was leaving Flewellen said he (Mr Kim) was only an overstayer anyway.

Kim arrived on a backpacking trip around New Zealand in February 2003. The last trace he left was an eftpos transaction at a Westport bar on September 29 of that year.

He was reported missing by his family in May 2004.

- NZPA