Missing man sparks homicide inquiry

WILMA MCCORKINDALE
Last updated 05:00 07/09/2013

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Otago police believe missing Central Otago man Simon Garrick has died or been killed.

Police were appealing to the public for help to discover what had happened to Mr Garrick, a petty criminal and drug user, said Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw, of Alexandra.

A homicide investigation had been launched after a 100-day search turned up nothing, he said.

Mr Garrick had been missing since last October when a warrant for his arrest was issued after he failed to appear in court.

Police briefed media in Dunedin yesterday in the hope anyone with information about the 42-year-old's fate would come forward.

Mr Garrick has been officially missing since May but has not been seen since last October.

"I appeal to anyone who has knowledge of what happened to Simon to come forward," Mr Shaw said.

It was no secret Mr Garrick had been involved in Otago's criminal underworld and had been a known heavy drug user, he said. "I believe the key to solving the mystery of his disappearance lies with members in this group."

Yesterday, police released surveillance footage of Mr Garrick in Dunedin on October 30 last year.

Apart from a couple of unconfirmed sightings since, this was the last time Mr Garrick was seen.

A week before, he failed to appear in the Alexandra District Court on driving and dishonesty offences.

Several factors contributed to the police believing Mr Garrick's disappearance was not a case of evasion. In spite of his criminal activity, Mr Garrick was well-regarded by police and the community because he had a good work ethic, paid his bills on time, and kept in touch with family and associates.

Yet since last October no-one had heard from him, Mr Shaw said. His father died suddenly last December and Mr Garrick did not attend the funeral.

He had not been to work or sought new employment as far as the police knew. There had been no activity on his mobile phone or bank accounts after October 30 last year, Mr Shaw said.

Mr Garrick had not used either of his two vehicles in the past year. One was impounded at the Balclutha police station and the other was stored in a friend's shed.

There was no evidence Mr Garrick had gone to Australia.

Mr Shaw said the main focus of the investigation was to find Mr Garrick whatever the circumstances. It was possible some individuals knew what happened to Mr Garrick and had got caught up in a situation beyond their control.

"If this is the case we'd like them to now come forward and contact us. I am sure the knowledge - that will enable Simon to be returned to his family - is held by someone in our community."

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Mr Shaw said Mr Garrick had spent most of his life in Otago and Southland.

"While his life changed for the worse since he became a significant drug user, until recently he was known to be a reliable and stable worker who undertook contracting work in the agricultural sector."

Mr Garrick's criminal activity mainly involved rural burglaries and driving charges. He is described as a being of European descent, of thin build and 185cm tall. He was last seen wearing a white rugby jersey with a distinctive blue and yellow stripe.

WHO TO CONTACT

Anyone with information about Simon Garrick's whereabouts should contact Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw at the Alexandra police station on 03 448 2500; Detective Sergeant Rob Hanna, Dunedin, on 03 471 4800; or provide information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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