Mona Blades suspect again quizzed

Detectives have re-interviewed an Australian suspect in the Mona Blades 1975 murder mystery.

Charlie Hughes, a Sydney caretaker, was spoken to on Monday for five hours by Rotorua police officers Detective Sergeant Tania Blackbourn and Detective John Hope.

Mr Hughes has been a suspect in the 30-year-old case since the 1970s but has always denied any involvement in the 18-year-old's murder.

Mrs Blackbourn told the Rotorua Daily Post from Sydney yesterday that Mr Hughes had co-operated fully with police during the long interview and voluntarily gave police a DNA sample.

Despite co-operating, Mrs Blackbourn said Mr Hughes told police the constant pressure of being a suspect and being interviewed had "ruined his life".

"His comments to us were that he hopes that the matter gets resolved for the family's sake," she said.

"He reckons it's ruined his life because of the constant contact from police and the fact that his involvement, whether he is or isn't involved, remains unsolved."

Miss Blades went missing on May 31, 1975, while hitchhiking from Hamilton to Hastings.

She got into an orange Datsun 120Y stationwagon on the Napier-Taupo road and disappeared without a trace. Her body and belongings have never been found.

Mr Hughes has been interviewed by police several times, in the 1970s and 1980s and again in 1997. A documentary on the Sunday TV programme this year concluded that Mr Hughes was the driver of a Datsun car that was at the centre of the case.

Mr Hughes is one of about five suspects in the murder. Two men, one of whom who has since died, remain "persons of interest" to police.

Police believe both Mr Hughes and the surviving man had access to Datsun 120Y cars and links to the Matea Rd area, a road on the way to Napier.

Re-interviewing Mr Hughes was part of a fresh investigation carried out this year by Rotorua police.

Bay of Plenty crime manager Detective Inspector Garth Bryan, who is leading the new investigation, said police were yet to speak with at least two other suspects in the North Island.

The three detectives have worked on the case on and off all year and were coming to the end of their inquiries. But Mr Bryan was reluctant to say the case would be put to bed once all interviews were completed.

He said: "When we have completed all our inquiries we will assess where we are at. Obviously the file will remain open until someone is prosecuted for this. We will continue to assess the investigation on a regular basis."

Mr Bryan said this year's inquiries had resulted in a huge amount of information from the public on the 0800 MONA BLADES hotline.

- DAILY POST (ROTORUA)

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