Murder charge laid

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 16:49 09/02/2013
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

A policeman guards the scene after a female was found dead in the room of a Tyne St address at 10am today. The Haven Lodge is to the left and the St Mary's Basillica is to the right.

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Police have charged a 30-year-old man with murder following the death of a woman in Invercargill on Saturday.

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

Her name has not been released.

Police said yesterday a 30-year-old man had been taken into custody.

This morning, Invercargill area tactical response manager Inspector Olaf Jensen said the man had been charged with murder and would appear in the Invercargill District Court tomorrow.

The man was known to the victim but police were still establishing what the relationship between the pair, was he said.

The homicide scene has been cordoned off, and 22 Southland police staff, as well as two ESR staff and a forensic pathologist are working on the investigation.

Scene investigations are continuing today and are expected to take several days, he said.

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

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

A post mortem examination would be carried out tomorrow, he said.

The woman's name would not released until police had contacted next of kin, he said.

Police would like to hear from any one who was in the Otepuni Gardens area around 4 - 5am on Saturday morning. They should make contact with the Invercargill Police on telephone 2110400 or call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

When The Southland Times visited the site yesterday police had cordoned off a section of lawn at the Haven accommodation hostel, which is beside the St Mary's Basillica Church in Tyne St. A cone was placed in the middle of the lawn. Police were seen leaving the lodge soon after midday.

Father Chris O'Neill, parish priest of St Mary's Basillica, which is next to the scene, said he was not aware of any death until approached by a Times' reporter at 1.15pm.

The Haven landlord Robyn Hogan declined to comment yesterday.

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

Only 13 students were allowed to live at the boarding house but 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 if it had fully reopened.

Mr Jensen said the investigation into the woman's death was still in its early stages.

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