Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Christchurch.

Police dig in cemetery in body search

Police are digging in a Christchurch cemetery in their search for the body of missing teenager Hayden Miles.

The 16-year-old was robbed of a cask of wine just hours before he was murdered, police said today.

A 27-year-old man appeared in court charged with the murder of the teenager, who has been missing since August 22.

Police are still searching for his body.

Three large police tents have been erected in the eastern corner of Ruru Lawn Cemetery in the suburb of Linwood as eight police staff, ESR specialists, a forensic pathologist, and other experts carry out the scene examination.

The row of tents appear to be sited over existing graves - there are several new graves in the area - and police stressed today they are "being respectful of the sensitivity of the location".

A spokesman said police expect to remain at the site for several days, adding: "Nothing has been recovered to date."

The unemployed man charged with Miles' murder appeared before a judge at a Christchurch District Court session at the city's men's prison this morning.

He was granted interim name suppression by Judge Raoul Neave and was remanded in custody without plea until December 22 for legal aid.

The charge alleges that he murdered Hayden Peter Miles on August 22 - the last day the then 15-year-old was seen alive.

Two other people have been charged in relation to the teen's disappearance and appeared in private before Judge Brian Callaghan at a district court session at Christchurch Police central police station watch house today.

A 35-year-old man is charged with robbing Miles of a cask of wine on August 22. He entered no plea and was remanded on bail to December 22 at the marae.

An 18-year-old woman, accused of being an accessory after the fact, also appeared at the police watch house. She was granted bail and remanded to reappear at the Nga Hau e Wha marae in Christchurch.

The woman, who was also granted interim name suppression, is charged with actively suppressing evidence, and knowing the 27-year-old had committed murder, to enable him to avoid arrest.

Her bail was granted on conditions that she reside at her parent's house in Upper Riccarton, conform to a 24-hour curfew, and not to contact her alleged co-accused or the victim's family.

Her parents refused to comment when approached by APNZ today.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Hill, who has headed Operation Miles, said yesterday that Miles' family had been kept up to date with developments, but added: "They have requested privacy at this time."

Today, Facebook tribute pages were inundated with heartfelt messages from friends, family, and even big-hearted strangers.

Younger sister Maddie Miles posted on her Facebook page, 'Hayden Miles we miss you': 'Missing you Bro :( '

One poster, Carla Moulin wrote on the 'Pray for Hayden' page, "rip hayden u will b missed but not forgotten my love goes out to haydens family and friends during this tragic time hugs and kisses to all."

Mr Hill revealed yesterday that police were conducting a scene examination at the Linwood graveyard, which is located near the property at 612 Cashel St, Linwood, where Hayden was last seen and which has been subject to a thorough forensic examination over the last 10 days.

Police have refused to say if the three offenders were known to Miles, or if they are connected to the Cashel St house.

Today, there was a large police presence and much activity at the cemetery.

Urban search and rescue workers wearing blue overalls and gloves were seen going in and out of the tents, carrying lengths of timber using wheel barrows, while a trailer was parked to the entrance of one tent.

Two fire appliances were also on site, while private security guards patrolled the cemetery's perimeter and refused admittance to members of the public not connected to the Miles case.

Mr Hill and Detective Inspector Virginia Le Bas were at the cemetery this morning before travelling back to the Cashel St house. They refused to comment on their investigations.

The windows of the rundown property are no longer blacked out and police presence has scaled back considerably in recent days as the investigation shifts its focus to recovering Hayden's body.

Police confirmed today that the scene examination at Cashel St is "in its final stages" but the property remains cordoned off.

Other enquiries are continuing, with more than 20 staff still assigned to the case, police say.

- APNZ

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