Murder-accused appears in court

ASHLEIGH STEWART AND DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:50 12/07/2012
Daniel Tobin

Police continue to search the Travis Road property where the body of a woman was found.

murder 4
MEMORIAL: A policeman places flowers at the scene of a murder on Travis Rd today.

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Name suppression has been granted to a Kaiapoi man charged with the murder of a woman in Burwood, while a psychiatric report is prepared.

The woman's name has also been suppressed at the request of the police, and all other details of the case are suppressed.

Judge Robert Murfitt granted the name suppression at the request of defence counsel Tony Greig at the man's Christchurch District Court appearance today.

The man, 29, was arrested for murder after the discovery of the woman's body at a property in Travis Rd yesterday.

Judge Murfitt ordered a report under the Criminal Procedures (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act and remanded the man, described as a farmhand, in custody to July 26.

The case was delayed for more than an hour while a psychiatrist spoke to the man in the cells at the courthouse.

The psychiatrist's preliminary opinion, relayed to the judge, was that there should be "a justifiable inquiry to assess the availability of an insanity defence".

Judge Murfitt said the suppression orders should be considered when the matter returned to court in two weeks.

An autopsy will be conducted on the woman's body today.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Hill, of the Christchurch police, said yesterday that the early arrest was the result of "good investigative work".

"We are continuing to talk to people associated with the victim and our forensic work will also continue for some time as we put together a picture of what has occurred," he said.

More than 20 investigators were working on the case and scene examination was likely to continue for several days, Hill said.

Neighbours of the Travis Rd flat spoken to by The Press yesterday were shocked to learn of the murder. Several nearby properties have been abandoned because of earthquake damage.

Vicki Stikkelman, who has lived in the area for 26 years, said she heard teenage girls laughing and giggling at the property about 8am yesterday.

"I heard a noise like a giggle or a big squeal, and then it happened again soon after," she said.

She was "absolutely petrified" despite the arrest.

"I do not feel safe. To me, it's quite sickening that this has happened in my own backyard," Stikkelman said.

Ron Abrey, who lived next door, said a young couple had lived in the house for about a year, but were rarely seen.

"They kept to themselves. There was never any trouble, no noise or anything."

He and wife Val heard nothing after going to bed on Tuesday about 10.30pm.

Juliet O'Connor said she did not know who lived at the property but had heard "party noises" coming from the house in the past.

The neighbourhood was not a bad one, she said.

"Pre-quake, there was the odd doughnut at the end of the road and the odd tagger, but nothing like this," she said.

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- The Press

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