Waihi party focus of murder case

By Jamie Morton, James Ihaka, Amy McGillivray of the Bay of Plenty Times

Details of New Year's Eve gathering sought as accused revealed to have breached bail.

Investigators check a property in relation to the fatal stabbing of Murray Wilkinson outside this house. Photo / Alan Gibson
Investigators check a property in relation to the fatal stabbing of Murray Wilkinson outside this house. Photo / Alan Gibson

A New Year's Eve party at a Waihi Beach home has become part of a police probe into the killing of a 64-year-old holidaymaker, allegedly by a local teenager.

It has also been revealed that the 18-year-old accused was in breach of bail conditions when he allegedly stabbed visiting expatriate New Zealander Robert Wilkinson in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Mr Wilkinson, known as Murray, had been staying in a caravan parked in the driveway of a friend's Waihi Beach Rd home and suffered fatal stab wounds as he went to check a disturbance outside in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Forensic teams yesterday scoured a property and neighbouring section in Waihi where the teenager was arrested on Tuesday afternoon.

The investigation was also focusing on another street in Waihi Beach.

Residents of Citrus Ave, across town from where Mr Wilkinson was stabbed, told the Herald police had been looking into a New Year's Eve party at one house on the street.

A woman at the address declined to comment about the police inquiries, however neighbour Rex Smith described the homeowners as "good, solid citizens".

Mr Smith said fireworks that "sounded like a bloody bomb" had been heard at the party, where a number of youths were seen leaving and heading towards the town centre.

Another Rotorua family holidaying across the road noticed a large gathering of young people there earlier in the evening.

Waikato district crime manager Detective Inspector Chris Page said there was an "address of interest" in the street.

"What we want to do is find out what movements people have and haven't seen there."

Mr Page said the investigation was building rather than slowing, and events leading up the fatal attack were becoming clearer.

"We knew there were a lot of people, predominantly intoxicated youths, in and around the area where the attack took place and we have confirmed there were several incidents of assaults and disorder," he said.

Hamilton District Court heard the accused was in breach of his bail conditions at the time of the incident.

The teenager was granted interim name suppression and will reappear in Tauranga District Court on Monday.

Family members were home at the Waihi Beach Rd house when the Herald visited yesterday, and bouquets of flowers had been left at the front door.

Mr Wilkinson's son Daniel declined to discuss the arrest but thanked police and the Waihi community "for their amazing support and concern for us, it has given us strength".

"While nothing will bring Dad back, this arrest means we are able to focus our grief in the place that matters most, on Dad," he said.

Locals in the streets of Waihi Beach also expressed their relief at the arrest.

Brian Wilkins, who went to Mr Wilkinson's aid shortly after the attack, never wanted to see another incident like it in his town and said of the arrest: "It's bloody good ... For the family, at least they know they're getting closure."

People with information related to the scene of last week's attack or on the new area of focus around Citrus Ave are asked to contact police at either the Waihi Beach or Waihi police stations or via the inquiry crimeline, 0800 OP BRAD (0800 672723).

- NZ Herald

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