Man charged with sleepout murder

ROB KIDD
Last updated 12:26 16/10/2012

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An unemployed man has been charged with the murder of Richard John Lees who was found dead in a South Auckland sleepout on Friday.

The 27-year-old will appear in the Manukau District Court today charged with killing Lees the day before he was discovered in the converted garage in Manurewa he lived in.

He has also been charged with theft for taking property from the 55-year-old's home.

An autopsy revealed Lees died of head injuries. Police said detectives were continuing to search properties of interest and were still determining whether other people were involved in either helping the accused or dealing with the stolen property. 

Lees was living a normal, routine and quiet life before his death, police have said. 

His body was discovered by his flatmate at the Great South Rd address about 10am on Friday.

A forensic examination of the garage continued yesterday and police extended the search and cordoned off areas of an adjacent property.

Police at the scene would only say the area was "of interest" and residents of a neighbouring property said they had no idea what was going on.

They believed there were students living at number 217 but had never met them or Lees.

The residents said their neighbours were generally quiet but the area itself - near the heart of Manurewa town centre - was anything but.

A collapsed fence at the front of the house marked the scene of a car crash that had taken place a couple of days ago.

Reshma Devi, who lives on the other side of the property, said she had never met her neighbours but was far from shocked by what happened.

"It's South Auckland, I'm not surprised," she said.

She was similarly nonplussed when asked whether the potentially random nature of the attack worried her.

"It's unfortunate it happened right next door but I'm more scared of the spiders and cockroaches."

While police said they had had a strong response from the public, they were still calling for anyone with information to come forward.

Lees, who police said had a wife and daughter, had family members in New Zealand and England.

Police want anyone who has information to call Counties Manukau police on 09 261 1300 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

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