A significant amount of blood was found in the car of missing man Lance Murphy, which was parked at the home of the man police believe is connected to his disappearance.

Police say concern for Mr Murphy's wellbeing and safety is growing each hour they do not hear from him. And their hunt for Steven Brent Gunbie is ramping up as they monitor his social media posts and speak to his friends and family.

He was travelling in his 2010 Mazda 6, registration HMZ40, which police found abandoned five days later, 1.6km away at a property on Goatley Rd.

The Herald can reveal that Gunbie, who has a "lengthy" criminal history, including an arrest for a violent gunpoint kidnapping, lives at the property.
Gunbie was only released from prison in September, two months before Mr Murphy disappeared.

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Lance John Murphy was last seen on November 26 at the BP service station in Warkworth. Photo / NZ Police
Lance John Murphy was last seen on November 26 at the BP service station in Warkworth. Photo / NZ Police

Detective Inpsector Uraia Vakaruru said the police Eagle helicopter was called in to help in the search for Mr Murphy. The crew spotted the red Mazda parked at Gunbie's property. It was not concealed and "stuck out" to searchers.

"We identified blood in the vehicle and at this stage, initial forensic examinations would suggest that the blood is Mr Murphy's," Mr Vakaruru told the Herald this afternoon.

"I can't really elaborate too much more on that."

Police need your help to find Mr Murphy. Photo / NZ Police
Police need your help to find Mr Murphy. Photo / NZ Police

Gunbie was not at the address. He is wanted on a warrant for failing to appear in court on a driving charge.

Last night Gunbie's Facebook profile photo was updated, hours after the police appeal and his photograph were published on a number of media websites.

Among the comments is one from a man who is clearly aware of Gunbie's "wanted" status.

"Run n****r run FTP!!" he said.

FTP is an acronym for f**k the police.

Tonight Gunbie appeared to be taunting police via Facebook.

On a post where police were appealing for information, a message from Gunbie's profile said: "here I am".

The poster then offered information that he was "driving around without a licence".

Mr Vakaruru said the last confirmed sighting of Mr Murphy was at the BP station. He was on his own. It is unclear at this stage how, when and why he was in contact with Gunbie.

"We are still working on exactly what linked Lance Murphy to the Warkworth area. We are aware of common associates he had with Gunbie," he said.

"With every day that passes and we don't hear anything from Lance Murphy, there is a growing concern for his safety and welfare. That concern is shared by police and Mr Murphy's family.

"It is really vital that we get information from the public."

Mr Murphy has adult children living in the Waiuku area, where he lived. He also has siblings across the country.

Mr Vakaruru said the search area spanned from Warkworth where Gunbie lived and the missing man was last seen, to Waiuku.

"Warkworth and Waiuku are the key areas, but we are mindful that Auckland is a big area and Gunbie can get around, like we all can."

Police were monitoring Gunbie's Facebook page, and those of others linked to him, for clues.

"Facebook is definitely a source we are monitoring. As well, we are getting information in through Crimestoppers and the Operation Cosmos line and we are working through a lot of different avenues.

Steven Brent Gunbie's Facebook profile photo was updated late last night, hours after the police appeal and his photograph were published. Photo / Facebook. Photo / Facebook
Steven Brent Gunbie's Facebook profile photo was updated late last night, hours after the police appeal and his photograph were published. Photo / Facebook. Photo / Facebook

On November 10 Gunbie posted a video apparently taken in the custody area of the Huntly District Court.

"Huntly court today for driving with no licence. In cell waiting for bail papers," he wrote.

Police have confirmed that he is wanted for failing to appear in court in relation to a driving charge.

Do not approach

Mr Vakaruru appealed for anyone who knew where Gunbie was to contact them urgently.

As well, anyone who saw him or had seen Mr Murphy before he disappeared should speak to police.

"We really rely on on the goodwill of people who may have seen something or might have some information to ring us. Every bit of information helps, they might not realise how important it is."

He said Gunbie is believed to have access to firearms and should not be approached.

Police are urging anyone who knows where Steve Gunbie is to contact them urgently. Photo / Supplied via police
Police are urging anyone who knows where Steve Gunbie is to contact them urgently. Photo / Supplied via police

Can you help?

Any information on the whereabouts of Gunbie or sightings of Mr Murphy and his Mazda 6 can be directed to the Operation Cosmos investigation team at 0508 422 443. To pass on information anonymously, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A "lengthy" criminal record

The Herald has learned that Gunbie was released from prison, where he was serving time for methamphetamine production-related offending, on September 9.

He was sentenced to 22 months' jail last year after being convicted for knowingly permitting premises to be used for producing the Class B controlled drug pseudoephedrine.

He served his entire sentence and was released on his sentence end date, meaning he is not on parole.

As he was sentenced to less than 24 months prison he was automatically released on conditions after serving half his sentence.

Gunbie is the brother of Renee Gunbie, who lost a hand when she was attacked by Antoine Dixon with a samurai sword in 2003. He is well known to police.

In 2004 Gunbie was arrested in relation to a home invasion-style robbery of a drug house north of Auckland. He was charged with kidnapping and robbing a man while armed with a .22 calibre gun.

His most recent stint in prison followed the a police operation codenamed Operation Jericho, which targeted an organised crime syndicate involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine.

Gunbie was one of a number of defendants charged with various offences after the operation.

At sentencing on October 30 last year in the High Court at Auckland, Judge Susan Thomas outlined Gunbie's criminal history and background.

"You have a lengthy criminal record, with 28 convictions in the last 10 years alone," she said.

A probation report stated Gunbie "appeared almost dismissive when asked" about past offending.

"[The probation officer] considers that you are unmotivated to change. She notes that you have seven breaches of sentences dating back to 1994 and numerous convictions involving aggression towards police and prison staff. She is concerned that you pose a risk of harm to others if that attitude remains unaddressed. She notes that for around six months in 2009 you were seen by an independent psychologist in prison to address your anger issues," said Judge Thomas.

"Overall, based on your criminal history, current offending and lack of insight, the probation officer assessed you as being at high risk of further reoffending and posing a high risk of harm to the community."