WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT


The 71-year-old man killed in Petone on Friday night was decapitated, police have confirmed.

Police announced a homicide investigation after the man was found dead at the Jackson St property shortly before 10pm on Friday.

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The local community has expressed shock at the chilling death. A neighbour told the Herald the victim, Francis Tyson, had dealt synthetic drugs.

The neighbour said Tyson, who he knew only as "Frank" or "Frankie" was "an old pensioner" who had been dealing synthetics to get by.

"Everyone's doing that, that's the hussle. He's a pensioner, he's doing his bit to hussle."

He said the drugs were related to the killing, but did not drive it.

He would not speak on the record about what he knew of the killing.

On Saturday, as a result of the police investigation, a 41-year-old man was arrested and appeared in the Lower Hutt District Court on willful damage and drug possession charges.

He was remanded in custody.

A post-mortem is being undertaken today on the body of the victim, and police expect to be able to formally identify him tomorrow.

The neighbour said he knew Frank well, and that people in the area used him as a "ghetto taxi driver". Frank would regularly drive friends and neighbours to work or the supermarket for a small fee.

He said Frank was not an easy person to get along with, but did a lot of good for those around him.

"There's a lot to this f***ing story ... the guy didn't have to go out the way he did," he said.

"The guy wasn't an easy guy to get along with. His jokes were f***ing stale. Everyone still laughed or else he wouldn't drive you."

The neighbour said he'd been crying for the last few days, and that this type of killing was unnecessary.

"This isn't the cartel.

"We need to find some sort of justice for the guy."

The neighbour said the death was "f***ing horrible".

"I don't want to be here anymore ... that's not a way for someone to go out."

He said there could have been "three homicides" if the people allegedly involved in the killing hadn't run from the scene, as there were others who would have come after them if they did not go into hiding.

The man, who was fearful of being identified, said he was not a "rat", but said "Frankie played with fire".

He said the killing had nothing to do with gangs.

The scene examination at the Jackson Street Flats continued today, and is likely to continue for several more days.

Police have clarified that neither the victim nor the 41-year-old man who was arrested on Saturday are gang members.

Police will not speculate on any potential motive for the killing, a spokesperson said.

The arrested man will be re-appearing in the Hutt Valley District Court tomorrow, and as this matter is before the courts police said they would not be commenting further.

"We want to reassure the community of Petone that this appears to have been an isolated incident, and police are working hard to find answers for the family of the deceased," Detective Inspector Shane Cotter said.

Police would still like to speak with anyone who can assist with information about what happened.

They can call Wellington Police on (04) 381 2000, or information can be shared anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Cotter said residents would notice an increased police presence in the area over the coming days.

"Police are committed to understanding what has occurred in this incident and holding to account those responsible for the man's death," he said.

Police still wanted to speak with any witnesses to the incident or anyone who may have information that could help with the investigation.

The death would have come as a shock for residents of the longstanding community, a local woman said.

Jackson Street Programme chair Leonie Dodds said the HNZ complex where the man was found was home to residents who knew each other well and had lived in the flats for a long time.