Man facing drugs charges after US polo star's party death

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Friday, 4 January 2019, 1:10PM
Lauren Biddle died in Christchurch in October 2018. Photo / Supplied
Lauren Biddle died in Christchurch in October 2018. Photo / Supplied

A man has been arrested in relation to the death of 22-year-old US citizen Lauren Biddle.

Biddle died at an address in Christchurch in October 2018.

Today police arrested a 37-year-old Christchurch man and charged him with two charges of supplying a Class B controlled drug, impedes rescue, perverting the course of justice and cultivating cannabis.

He is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court this afternoon.

Biddle was a promising American polo player who had been working in New Zealand.

Emergency services were initially called to the incident by a friend who was performing CPR on Biddle at Clifton Terrace in the suburb of Sumner.

At the time she was said to have died in mysterious circumstances.

The 22-year-old had been in New Zealand for just over a week. She had planned to stay in Clifton, working and playing polo, until March.

Lauren with her father Tommy Biddle in Millbrook, New York. Photo / Supplied
Lauren with her father Tommy Biddle in Millbrook, New York. Photo / Supplied

Her family was shocked by the death of their "vibrant, fun-loving" girl and her father Tommy said she did not take drugs.

Tommy Biddle Sr had told the Herald on Sunday he was struggling to come to terms with his daughter's death.

"We're all having our moments every day," he said in October last year.

"We'll never get over it but we're trying to move forward, and figure out ways to cope with it."

Today, Biddle Snr told the Herald that he had just received an email from police advising him that a man had been arrested.

He welcomed the charges and said the family wanted justice.

"I'm happy that they're taking action against the guy.

"I don't think we're ever going to get the real answer as to what happened."

Biddle Snr praised the police, government officials, funeral staff, and the New Zealand community for their "top-notch, first-rate" work and support.

At this stage, he didn't know whether he would come back if the case ended up going to trial.

"We're just trying to keep on pushing forward here. It's been a tough time, a tough time over the holidays, but we're trying to make the best of things."

A celebration of his daughter's life was held in November – in the US equestrian off-season – and yet more than 400 people attended, he said.

And now, as the equestrian season starts winding up again, and people he hasn't seen since his daughter's death come into town, it brings it all the emotions back to the surface.

"It's tough. It comes to the forefront every day."

Lauren Biddle also had a 29-year-old stepbrother and a 13-year-old sister.

Polo was all-consuming for the family, Biddle Snr said, and his daughter was a fourth-generation player.

Biddle Snr plays the game professionally in the States and Lauren Biddle's mother plays alongside her work with horses in Florida.

Lauren Biddle had travelled to New Zealand from Australia - her second trip to Aotearoa - and had been playing across the ditch for around three weeks prior to her arrival here.

She was not only an accomplished polo player, but was also into show jumping and equestrian.

"She was an amazing rider," her father said.

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