Raids over missing Nelson teen

BLAIR ENSOR AND CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 16:51 13/01/2014
Leo Lipp-Neighbours
STILL MISSING: Leo Lipp-Neighbours.
Charlotte Lipp, Leo Lipp-Neighbours
COLIN SMITH/Fairfax NZ
NO RESOLUTION: Charlotte Lipp is still without the answer to son Leo's disappearance.

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Police have raided homes and seized computer equipment in connection with the disappearance of Nelson teenager Leo Lipp-Neighbours four years ago.

Detective Sergeant Mark Kaveney, of the Nelson police, confirmed this afternoon that investigators searched three rental properties in Blenheim on Tuesday last week.

Computer equipment, hard drives and DVDs were seized and would be forensically examined, Kaveney said.

People living at the homes would not be interviewed until it was known whether the equipment contained any information useful to the police investigation, he said.

"We want to check emails, we want to check if anyone's been talking about Leo."

Police received tipoffs from the public about a month ago that people living at the homes might have been involved in the disappearance of Lipp-Neighbours.

Kaveney would not elaborate further, but conceded the results of the raids were disappointing.

"I'd like to have found parts of the vehicle or sufficient information to lead to Leo's location," he said.

"I wouldn't think we are any closer [to finding him] at this stage."

Police believe Lipp-Neighbours, a 19-year-old University of Canterbury engineering student last seen in Nelson in January 2010, fell victim to foul play. He and his car have never been found.

The inquiry changed tack in September after a case review. New information led investigators to conclude his disappearance was not an accident.

Police believe the most likely scenario is that he was killed after finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Kaveney said police obtained search warrants for two properties on the grounds that the people living there were involved in Lipp-Neighbours' disappearance. Residents of another property allowed police to search their home voluntarily.

Police believed the people living at the homes were not known to Lipp-Neighbours, he said.

Cannabis was found growing at one of the properties.

Police were still receiving information from the public about Lipp-Neighbours which was "very pleasing".

Some sightings of his distinctive orange car were yet to be checked, he said.

"I can't go into details until we've done that."

Ben Clark, the last to see Lipp-Neighbours, said it was good news police were still receiving leads from the public. He was unaware of the raids.

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"Hopefully it turns out to be something."

Lipp-Neighbours was last seen leaving a friend's Washington Valley flat. He had been drinking with friends at a Nelson club earlier in the night.

Despite extensive searches, neither he nor his Toyota Corolla station wagon have been seen since.

Police have no suspects. A $50,000 reward offered in 2010 is still available. 

- The Press

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