Charges laid against four people over the death of an Ashburton man in June have been upgraded to manslaughter.

Arran Gairns' body was found behind commercial premises on West Street, in a drainage runoff area shortly after 3pm on June 1.

A post-mortem examination revealed the 34-year-old had drowned.

The following week four people were arrested and charged with assault with intent to rob Mr Gairns before his death.


On July 3 Desmond Kapi Marshall, 46, of Netherby, admitted the charge in the Timaru District Court.

Judge Joanna Maze declined to enter a conviction against Marshall and remanded him in custody, where he has been held since his arrest on June 7.

He was due to be sentenced in the Timaru District Court on August 28.

The remaining three accused appeared on the same day, but offered no plea to the charge.