The hunt for a New Zealand prison escapee in the United Kingdom has heated up after a coroner there ruled his former flatmate was killed unlawfully.
Brandon Victor Pillay, who escaped from Turangi's Rangipo Prison in August 2001, was being sought over the killing of Michael Polding, who was found in his Brighton flat with serious chest injuries last July, police said.
Pillay, a 35-year-old South African-born New Zealander, had been living under the name Ricardo Pisano and used the nicknames Ree and Ricky.
Police in Sussex have offered a £5000 (NZ$9000) for any information that leads to his capture, but say Pillay could be anywhere in the world by now.
In an April 10 inquest into Polding's death, UK Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley found that he was unlawfully killed.
Detective Inspector Jon Fanner of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team welcomed the verdict and said the investigation was ongoing.
"We will continue to work tirelessly to investigate the circumstances surrounding Michael's death and to locate Ricky," he said.
"This has been an incredibly traumatic and difficult time for Michael's family and they deserve to know some answers about Michael's final days and hours."
Polding's family said the verdict offered some closure but they could not come to terms with his death without knowing what had happened to him.
"We are continuing to try to come to terms with Michael's death and miss him greatly," they said.
"All of Michael's family continues to support the police investigation into his death and the search for Ricky.
"We would appeal for anyone with information about Ricky or his whereabouts to contact police to help all of Michael's family and friends piece together his final hours."
Polding was thought to have been dead in his flat for months before he was discovered. It was only after his sister sent an email to police, concerned that she hadn't heard from him for some time, that they discovered him dead with mail piled up inside his door.
Police said the last known sighting of Pillay, who was Polding's flatmate at the time, was at a shopping centre in Southampton on July 28, last year.
Pillay is known to have links to South Africa as well as New Zealand and police said he seemed to be able to change his name, accent and appearance at will.
Police in Sussex have set up a web page to appeal for information on Pillay's whereabouts. New pictures of him were uploaded to the site this week, and Sussex police were asking anyone with links to Pillay to look at them and call with any information.
*Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ricky Pillay should call Sussex Police on +44 1 273 470101 or the anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.
- © Fairfax NZ News