The man accused of kidnapping Tauranga man Harley Shrimpton has now been charged with his murder.
Police launched a homicide investigation after the body of 28-year-old Shrimpton was found last month.
Shrimpton had been missing since November 3 and his whānau reported him missing on November 17.
A 21-year-old man, whose identity is suppressed, faced new charges of murder and aggravated robbery when he appeared in the Tauranga District Court today before Judge David Cameron.
Court charging documents reveal police allege the defendant murdered Shrimpton in Tauranga on November 3 last year.
The robbery charge relates to a further police allegation that the defendant together with another person robbed another man.
The defendant was earlier charged with kidnapping Shrimpton, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and driving while forbidden.
In terms of the kidnapping charge, a court charging document shows police allege Shrimpton was “unlawfully taken away with his consent obtained under duress” with intent to confine him.
Crown prosecutor Sunny Teki-Clark asked for the two sets of charges to be joined which was unopposed by defence lawyer Rebekah Webby.
Webby, who appeared in court by audio-visual link, told Judge Cameron, that in terms of entering pleas, a High Court hearing date would be needed. She sought continued interim name suppression and suppression of any other identifying details until at least that date.
The Crown did not oppose her request.
Judge Cameron made the order for all the charges to be joined and remanded the defendant in custody to appear in the High Court at Tauranga on February 7.
The judge told the defendant and Webby the suppression orders would need to be revisited on that date.
Police not ruling out further charges
Bay of Plenty police issued a statement about the case on Thursday afternoon.
“While today’s murder charge won’t bring Harley back, it has come as a huge relief for the Shrimpton family, who have spent their first Christmas without him,” said Detective Inspector Lindsay Pilbrow, the region’s field crime manager.
“Police and Harley’s family wish to acknowledge the significant public support shown following Harley’s disappearance, to thank everyone who has come forward with information during the course of the investigation, and to urge anyone with information that could assist the investigation to contact police.”
Pilbrow said police were “committed to holding to account all those who played a part in the death of Harley Shrimpton” and had not ruled out laying charges against others who may have been allegedly involved.
Sandra Conchie is a senior journalist at the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post who has been a journalist for 24 years. She mainly covers police, court and other justice stories, as well as general news. She has been a Canon Media Awards regional/community reporter of the year.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you