Invercargill murder-accused to appear in court

EVAN HARDING AND CASSANDRA POKONEY
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2013
Constable Alun Griffiths
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
SIFTING FOR CLUES: Constable Alun Griffiths inspects an area in the Otepuni Gardens yesterday after a woman was found dead in her room at the nearby Haven hostel on Saturday

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A 30-year-old man will appear in the Invercargill District Court today charged with murder after a woman was found dead at a city hostel on Saturday.

The 38-year-old Invercargill woman was found in her room at the Haven accommodation hostel in Tyne St at 10am on Saturday.

Police have not released her name but expect to do so today after advising next of kin.

The man contacted police on Saturday afternoon.

Invercargill area tactical response manager Inspector Olaf Jensen confirmed yesterday the man had been charged with murder.

The pair are believed to have known each other but police were still establishing what the relationship was, Mr Jensen said. The man did not live at the Haven and the pair were not relatives, he said.

Twenty-two Southland police staff, as well as two ESR staff and a forensic pathologist were working on the investigation, which was still in the early stages.

The homicide scene has been cordoned off since Saturday, with scene investigations expected to take several days, he said.

Items of interest had been found in an area of the Otepuni Gardens near the hostel but Mr Jensen would not comment on what they were, nor would he comment on the cause of death.

An autopsy is expected to be carried out today.

The Haven, which is beside the St Mary's Basilica, has been closed while the investigation continues and residents have been accommodated elsewhere, he said.

Police wanted to hear from anyone in the Otepuni Gardens area between 4am and 5am on Saturday.

They should make contact with Invercargill police on (03) 211 0400 or call the Crimestoppers line, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Father Chris O'Neill, parish priest of St Mary's Basilica, said he was not aware of any death until approached by a Southland Times reporter on Saturday.

The Haven landlord, Robyn Hogan, declined to comment on Saturday and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Haven boarding house was declared unsafe by the Invercargill City Council in March last year because of a high degree of fire risk.

Only 13 students were allowed to live at the boarding house, however, more than 30 tenants had been there at the time it was closed.

It is understood work has been ongoing at the boarding house but it is unclear whether it had fully reopened.

evan.harding@stl.co.nz

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