'House of Horrors' land sale

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 13:09 10/08/2012
The demolished Aranui
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ
KNOCKED DOWN: The Aranui "House of Horrors", where Jason Somerville buried his two murder victims under the floorboards, was demolished in 2010.
Tisha Lowry
Stacy Squires
REMEMBERED: Tisha Lowry's grave at Ruru Lawn cemetery.

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Wainoni's ''House of Horrors'' site looks set to be bought by ratepayers.

The Christchurch City Council said yesterday that agreements for sale and purchase for both cross-leased sections, on the corner of Wainoni Rd and Hampshire St, had been sent "to the parties concerned" for consideration.

The bodies of Rebecca Somerville and missing neighbour Tisha Lowry were found under the floorboards of a unit on the site in September 2009.

Jason Somerville is serving a 23-year non-parole sentence for their murders, which were about a year apart.

He stuffed underwear down their throats, had intercourse with their bodies and buried them beneath his house.

Both his unit and the one next door were destroyed after a series of arsons.

The Press understands the council offer is about $50,000 for each cross-lease section.

Council corporate support manager Sue Chappell said both purchases were conditional on councillors' approval.

"Once both agreements are signed by the parties we will take the proposal to the community board and then to a council meeting for consideration and resolution," she said.

Somerville's unit was requisitioned by finance company Liberty Financial. No-one at the company has yet been reached for comment.

Jason Drain, who owned the flat next door, said he had signed the council's offer and sent it back.

"Fingers crossed, it will go through," he said.

Drain said there was "no reason" why someone could not rebuild on his section, but a memorial park was appropriate for the murder site.

An earlier offer was due to go before the council for approval last year but it fell through after the February 22 earthquake hit, he said.

"It will be good to get over it and move on. We've been paying two mortgages for three years," he said.

Drain's former tenant, Shanita Araipu, lived in the unit while both murders took place.

She said the council's offer should have been made "long ago".

"Why wait until now? We've had two earthquakes. Worry about those who don't have homes first," she said.

Araipu said it would be a mistake to build homes on the site.

"The community will burn them down,'' she said. ''The community will never forget."

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- The Press

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