Mt Eden bones mystery: 'They were great neighbours'

8:50 pm on 5 February 2020

Neighbours of the Mt Eden villa where human bones were discovered have described the previous tenants as nice, but said the situation was unusual.

Police remained at the scene at 3 Marlborough Street yesterday.

Police remained at the scene at 3 Marlborough Street yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Malcolm, who did not want to use his last name, said the police activity was a start contrast to the normally-peaceful atmosphere on the street.

"I first learned about it when the builders said that they'd found a body which certainly attracts your attention."

He said the house used to be owned by a man called David Stanley Hart - who is listed as a former owner on property records.

Police yesterday said the identity of the remains was still unknown and would require DNA testing to determine, which could take weeks or longer.

Malcolm said he had never met Hart but knew a man called Gabriel who seemed to manage the house as boarding accomodation before he died three years ago.

"They were really great neighbours. There was probably three or four older guys that lived there. Gabriel was a sweetheart.

"It was an unusual situation in this neighbourhood but they seemed really nice."

Malcolm said the property changed after Gabriel died and eventually sat deserted in the leafy suburban street.

"As I understand it the power went off and various bills weren't paid after that, and the guys just sort of left.

"But it sounds like the body that's been discovered under the house has been there for quite a long time so it may well have been before this happened."

Malcolm said the bank and council tried to look for Hart over rent arrears but eventually gave up and put the house on the market.

Police remained at the scene at 3 Marlborough Street yesterday.

Police remained at the scene at 3 Marlborough Street yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

He said he was not entirely surpised to hear human remains had been unearthed at the property given the amount of characters who had frequented the house over the years.

"It's always been quite an eccentric house in our neighbourhood so it didn't seem inconsistant with the house's story."

It may be weeks, or longer, before police can identify the human remains.

Contractors renovating the old villa halted work after unearthing the remains last Friday.

They have now been sent to the Auckland mortuary for a post mortem while police removed a large piece of concrete for forensic examination.

Another neighbour - Murray Golding, who grew up a few doors down - said he believed Hart disappeared more than 15 years ago.

"There were lots of stories that he'd either gone to Australia or he had had a stroke and was in a retirement village somewhere."

Golding said some locals saw the house when it was put on the market, but others saw it earlier.

"Some had gone through it with him many years ago when he had dug it out underneath because he dug it out illegally.

"He had dug out underneath the house and added extra rooms. I don't know it if was for boarders, and it wasn't done through the council."

Golding said some of the people who stayed in the house all those years ago struck him as odd, and he had his own theory about how a body came to be buried under the house.

"I think maybe something happened with one of his boarders that was there. He might have said the wrong thing and done something to him and buried him under his own house.

"Then, as it's been brought up to code they've dug down and that's when they've hit the body."

Police are still seeking assistance from members of the public to help identify and locate previous owners and occupants of the property.

Anyone with information was asked to contact Auckland City Police on 105, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.