Police ruled out an extra-marital affair as the motive for Scott Guy's murder before they honed in on murder accused Ewen Macdonald's link to vandalism attacks on the Guy property, a court has been told.
Macdonald, 32, has denied murdering his brother-in-law Mr Guy, 31, after growing tensions over the future of the family farm in Feilding.
The Crown alleges Macdonald shot and killed Mr Guy in his driveway in the near-darkness of early July 8, 2010.
It was not until April last year, some nine months later, that police charged Macdonald with murder.
Giving evidence in the High Court at Wellington today, Detective Sergeant David Thompson said police looked into any possible criminal associations and extra-marital affairs, but ruled both out.
``All of those inquiries came to zero.''
Investigators later came to believe that arson and vandalism attacks on the Guys' property would lead to the killer.
``It was crucial that we found the person responsible for that.''
An old house on a trailer that was to be shifted off the property was burnt down, and a new house being constructed on the property was intentionally damaged and had graffiti drawn on its wall.
Police released images of the graffiti and received information from the public that led them to believe Macdonald and another man were involved.
They looked at bank records and communication between the two men which linked them to the incidents.
The Crown alleges Macdonald carried out the attacks on the property to intimidate Mr Guy's wife Kylee off the farm.
Mr Thompson said police re-interviewed members of the family only after Macdonald's arrest because he was ``so entwined with the family'' and the farm that it would become apparent to him he was a suspect.
Police had earlier ruled out links between the murder and drugs or a burglary gone wrong.
Mr Thompson said Macdonald informed police the day after Mr Guy's death that three of the Guys' chocolate labrador puppies were missing.
Scott and Kylee Guy had kept seven puppies from their dog Katie in a cow shed on their Aorangi Rd property.
The Crown alleges Macdonald killed and buried three of the puppies to throw police off in their inquiries.
Mr Thompson said Macdonald told police officers at the scene that the puppies were missing.
``It raised the possibility that there had been a theft or burglary and Scott Guy's murder was linked.''
But investigators soon ruled that out.
``From the scene examination I found it highly unlikely that it was a burglary gone wrong.''
There were ``other, more attractive targets'' in rural areas.
The scene examination showed the door to the shed was unlocked and there was no sign that somebody had gone in to have a look.
No property was taken.
Mr Thompson said the shed was an environment where a burglar could go undetected and they would have ample time to detect activity at the house.
There was also no evidence that Mr Guy's ute, which was found running in the driveway with its driver's door open and lights on, had been searched.
Police looked into a number of people of interest but they either had alibis or there was no substance or credibility to any links.
They also looked at links to other burglaries but those cases were solved or found not be linked.
Investigators also ruled out a link between Mr Guy's death and speculation he had discovered cannabis growing on the property.
Police found two plants by the river bordering the property but Mr Thompson said it was a ``minor seizure'' and the person who planted them had been prosecuted.
Two seedlings were also found in the cottage on the family farm but that matter was also dealt with.
Under cross-examination, Mr Thompson agreed police had solved 11 unrelated burglaries between January 2010 and the day before My Guy's death.
In that time there were two burglaries on Aorangi Rd, with one those looked into as part of the investigation but not solved.
Mr Thompson agreed there had been an attempted break-in on Aorangi Rd about three weeks before Mr Guy's death but it was not on a police list of burglaries in the area.
There had also been a firearms theft in Feilding before the death but the shotgun was not recovered.
The trial continues.
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