Accused partied before Waihi Beach attack
MARYANNE TWENTYMAN AND BELINDA FEEK
A teenager accused of murdering expatriate Kiwi Murray Wilkinson was partying at a Waihi Beach house on the night of the attack.
The 18-year-old Waihi man was remanded in custody and granted interim name suppression when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court yesterday.
He did not request bail and will return to court in Tauranga on Monday.
The man regularly looked around the courtroom during his appearance yesterday, smiling at his mother, with whom he exchanged a thumbs-up.
The man's mother refused to comment.
Mr Wilkinson died in Waikato Hospital two days after he was stabbed in the early hours of New Year's Day.
Relief was evident on the faces of Waihi Beach residents yesterday, with one woman crying after hearing news of the arrest.
"People have been so concerned for the family of [Mr Wilkinson] and for their own safety," she said.
The man's arrest - exactly a week after the attack - took place about 4.30pm on Tuesday, with police, including dog handlers, converging on the Coromandel town.
Information from the public led police to a house in Citrus Avenue, Waihi Beach, on Monday afternoon, where a forensic team worked through the night collecting evidence. A neighbouring couple said the daughter of the owners had thrown a party on New Year's Eve.
They said the girl's parents, who were not home at the time, were devastated their home had been linked to the crime.
While the Citrus Ave house is more than a 20-minute walk from the crime scene, Waikato district crime manager Detective Inspector Chris Page said police wanted to hear from anyone who stayed between 1 and 40 Citrus Ave over New Year.
"The support from the public and the amount of information has been significant in terms of getting this result," he said.
"Often people believe that because an arrest has been made that the work is finished but that is far from the case."
Mr Page said the arrest had brought "some form of closure" for Mr Wilkinson's family who were able to grieve knowing an arrest had been made.
Mr Wilkinson's son, Daniel Wilkinson, yesterday thanked police who he said had worked tirelessly on the case.
"While nothing will bring Dad back, this arrest means we are able to focus our grief in the place that matters most, on Dad.
"We would like to thank the community of Waihi and Waihi Beach for their amazing support and concern for us, it has given us strength."
The community was yesterday grateful for news of the arrest. Semi-permanent resident John Pamich said it had been a difficult week.
"We have definitely felt uneasy - not wanting our grandchildren sleeping in tents because we did not know who was responsible or whether they were still here," he said.
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