Police in the Central American nation of Belize have reportedly taken three young men into custody after a 76-year-old New Zealand man died when he was bound and gagged in a suspected robbery.

Barry Blayney was discovered in his house in the village of Crooked Tree last Wednesday, 7 News Belize reported.

His hands and feet were bound, his mouth was taped up and there was a piece of cloth over his head.

There were no signs of physical violence, and one theory was that he had been tied up by robbers and that the tape over his mouth had caused him breathing problems, the news website said.


Local news source the Village Post reported that three young men had been taken into custody as the police investigation continued.

Mr Blayney had been living in Crooked Tree for about 10 years and was operating a small grocery store there.

The community was reportedly in shock by what had happened.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was aware of Mr Blayney's death and had extended consular advice and support to his next of kin.