Body lay in caravan 'for months'
Police believe the body found yesterday in a caravan at a Cromwell holiday park is likely to be that of missing Central Otago man Simon James Garrick.
Police say while the body is yet to be formally identified, a number of items found at the scene strongly indicated the body is that of Garrick, who has been missing for about a year.
A scene examination was completed at the caravan today by police, with the assistance of ESR scientists and a pathologist.
The body will now be taken to Christchurch where a post-mortem examination will be held next week to formally confirm identity. It is believed that identification may rely on forensic results which may take some time.
Police say the circumstances do not appear to be suspicious and the matter has been referred to the coroner.
Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw, second in charge in the case, said he had spoken with Garrick’s family.
"Simon’s family wish to thank the public and media for their support over the period of time that Simon has been missing. While this support has been very important to them, they now ask for privacy."
Earlier Shaw said the body appeared to have been in the caravan for "a considerable period of time" and was in an advanced state of decomposition.
Garrick was from Dunedin but had been working in Central Otago. He has been missing for a year. Police recently offered a $20,000 reward for information about his disappearance.
The body was discovered yesterday morning by the caravan owner returning to it after a long absence to prepare if for summer.
When she discovered the scene she closed the door and contacted police.
The operator of the holiday park where the caravan was stored said it was business as usual today.
About 60 guests were at the park, most of whom were oblivious to what had happened.
The caravan where the body was found is at the rear of the camping ground in a separate fenced off area where about 100 caravans were stored.
"We are just letting police do their job. It is nothing we could have known about. Until we know what has transpired there is no sense speculating,'' he said.
The woman who found him kept her composure, probably due to her nursing background, he said.
She had not been to the park for three years.
Shaw said that although the scene was confined it was quite complex with bedding and other items covering part of the body.
The last confirmed sighting of Garrick was in Dunedin's Caversham Four Square store on South Rd on October 30, last year.
A week earlier he had failed to appear in the Alexandra District Court on driving and dishonesty offences, resulting in Alexandra police issuing a warrant for his arrest.
Several factors contributed to the belief Garrick's disappearance was not a case of evasion.
He had uncharacteristically been absent from work and not been in touch with family and associates, even on the death of his father, with whom he was close.
There had been no activity on his mobile phone or bank accounts after October 30, last year, and he had not used his two vehicles.
Garrick had always been a stable worker, but had ties to Otago's criminal underground because he was a burglar and heavy drug user, police said.
Shaw issued a plea to help locate Garrick in September.
"We have yet to hear from those close to him in the group we described, particularly those from the Dunedin criminal community, " Shaw said.
"We'd still like to hear from someone Simon mixed or associated with immediately before or after his disappearance on October 30."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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