Autopsy reveals violent death of respected journalist

07:59, May 19 2012
Derek Round
In 2010, Derek Round was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to journalism.

An autopsy shows journalist Derek Round was killed in a "horrific attack" in the living room of his Whanganui home, police say.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Kirby of Whanganui CIB said he had received results from an autopsy carried out today.

"Although I can't go into details at this stage the results would indicate a horrific attack on Derek, which took place in the living room of his home." 

Round was found dead in his Campbell St home on Thursday morning.

Police were searching for clues to provide some insight into the events that unfolded before the 77-year-old's death.

"We have made pleasing progress today, but this is one of those cases which the public will help us solve,'' Kirby said.


"I really need know more about the movements of Derek's car which we know left his property in Campbell Street sometime after 7pm on Wednesday. It is a 1996 blue Jaguar XJ6 - a quite distinctive car.''

Interviews with Round's neighbours, a scene examination at his house, and a forensic examination of his car would continue tomorrow. 

The police were also focusing on a few items of clothing, which they believed were linked to the crime scene.

Parks, reserves and bush areas would be searched by police tomorrow.

Kirby asked residents to check their front yards and bushes for the missing clothes, which included a red long-sleeved jersey or sweatshirt, a black leather sleeveless vest, dark coloured stonewashed jeans, dark fingerless gloves, and a pair of dark coloured sports shoes with light markings around the soles and coloured laces

The clothing has the hallmarks of gang attire.

Police, however, declined to say whether the clothing led them to consider a gang connection in their hunt for suspects, saying it would be speculating.

A team of 40 police were working on the investigation, which also involved canvassing both sides of the Whanganui River.

"This is a meticulous process involving a team of detectives piecing together what Derek was doing before he was violently attacked. As part of this we are talking to a range of people who had contact with him."

Kirby said some people have come forward with information.

"If you haven't yet spoken to us and have any information which would be helpful, however small, please call Whanganui police station on 06 349 0600.”


In 2010, Round was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to journalism.

He covered the Vietnam War, the historic visit of Prime Minister Rob Muldoon to China in 1976 and interviewed British call-girl Mandy Rice-Davies, who discredited the British Government in the 1960s.

He was the New Zealand Press Association's (NZPA) Asian correspondent from 1973-1977, on hand with pen and notebook when Mr Muldoon was one of the last foreign leaders to call on Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1976.

t was the first visit to China by a New Zealand leader after Wellington and Peking established diplomatic relations and three years earlier Round reported on the first ministerial delegation to China, led by Minister of Overseas Trade Joe Walding.

He worked for NZPA as political editor, its Fleet Street-based chief European correspondent and editor.

He was bureau chief in Singapore and Hong Kong for the Reuters news agency and it was his work in Asia for which he was best known, and he most proudly reflected on.

At a time when New Zealand was seeking to strengthen its bonds with Asia, Round played a prominent role in presenting the continent in his homeland.

As a war correspondent in Vietnam he was one of the last New Zealand journalists to leave, evacuating to Hong Kong a fortnight before the Viet Cong took the city then known as Saigon.

He wrote several biographies, was a former chairman and trustee of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, and had several roles in Wairarapa community organisations.

A Canterbury University law graduate, he turned to journalism after working as a legal intern on the infamous Parker-Hulme murder trial in 1954, when he was 19-years-old.