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Police confident Johnsonville death not suspicious

Police confident Johnsonville death no longer suspicious

Wellington CIB say the death of Johnsonville recluse Richard Howes is no longer being treated as suspicious and the file will now be passed to the Coroner to determine the cause of death.

Detective Inspector Gary Knowles, head of Wellington CIB, said today that a team of 15 detectives and forensic experts has completed its investigation and is satisfied that the death of 59-year-old Mr Howes did not involve anyone else.

"Our detailed investigation including extensive pathology and other forensic evidence leads us to believe that Mr Howes died as a result of a fall in his home," Detective Inspector Knowles said. "Our file will however go to the Coroner as a matter of course for his determination."

Police broke into the Fraser Avenue home of Mr Howes on Thursday morning, 13 January, after neighbours were concerned that they hadn't seen him for some days. Officers found his bloodied and bruised body lying on the bathroom floor.

Inquiries established that Mr Howes was last seen alive by relatives on Saturday, 8 January.

Police say the amount of blood from Mr Howes' head injuries, a disturbed scene and some items that could not be immediately explained initially led them to treat the death as suspicious.

"Detailed and time consuming investigative work by police and forensic experts has alleviated these concerns and we are now satisfied that Mr Howes' death was not suspicious," Detective Inspector Knowles said.

Police praised the public and Johnsonville business community for their help with the investigation. "People were concerned to know that Mr Howes had died.

"We spoke to more than 2500 people during an area canvas and searched security footage from local businesses to trace Mr Howes movements. From our work at the scene, forensics and general inquiries we believe Mr Howes unfortunately had a fall in his home and died as a result of those injuries.

"There was no indication of a break in and we are satisfied that nothing was taken from his home," Detective Inspector Knowles said.

Police have met with Mr Howes' family and advised them of the investigation outcome.

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