1 Dec 2014

Epuni house focus of homicide inquiry

6:08 pm on 1 December 2014

Wellington police investigating the homicide of Matthew Stevens say their focus is on the Oxford Terrace address in Lower Hutt which he had visited in the past.

Police believe he was last in the Hutt Valley, before he ended up dead down a bank on Paekakariki Hill Road.

A post-mortem confirmed that Mr Stevens, 32, who was found dead near his crashed car on Friday morning had suffered fatal stab wounds and had been assaulted. He was found next to his Toyota Corolla early on Friday morning.

Police are examining the car and also have CCTV footage of Mr Stevens at a Countdown supermarket at about 10.30pm on Thursday night.

Matthew Stevens at Countdown at 10:30pm on Thursday night

Matthew Stevens at Countdown at 10:30pm on Thursday night Photo: Supplied

Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Sears said police were trying to establish whether Mr Stevens had been at the Oxford Terrace, Epuni, property that night.

"Our inquiries are still yet to establish whether he had visited that address after his sighting at Countdown on the night.

"People we have spoken to have told us that he intended to go to the Oxford Terrace property," he said.

Police expect to be at that address for several more days.

Police have cordoned off a property in Oxford Terrace in Lower Hutt as part of their investigation.

Police have cordoned off a property in Oxford Terrace in Lower Hutt as part of their investigation. Photo: RNZ / Nick Butcher

Mr Sears said police believed Mr Stevens was not killed inside his vehicle. He cannot yet say how the property was linked to the investigation.

He said police were trying to piece together Mr Stevens' movements around Lower Hutt on Thursday night.

Family traumatised

Mr Stevens' family said they have been left shocked and traumatised after police upgraded their inquiry into his death to a homicide investigation.

Neighbours living on Oxford Terrace in the Lower Hutt suburb of Epuni, where the property was undergoing forensic examination, were also stunned to learn of the investigation.

Mr Sears said Mr Stevens' distraught family were helping police try to piece together the final days before his death.

"We're working closely with his family to identify friends and associates. We need to speak to a lot of people to build a picture of what happened in the lead up to this assault," he said.

Two doors down, a neighbour and her husband who have lived there since 1979 said the property behind the cordon did not have a sanitary reputation.

"I don't know what has happened this time but I do know that people used to park outside my house, walk down and buy drugs there, that's how it looked to us," she said.

The woman said police had been guarding the property since Friday and she was surprised they did not tell residents what was going on.

Directly next door to the cordoned off property, another neighbour said the house recently got new tenants.

"They've only been there a couple of weeks, maybe a month," she said.

"My son woke me up late Friday night saying the police armed offenders squad was outside," said the neighbour.

Police are calling for sightings of Mr Stevens' white Toyota Corolla, registration RZ1852.