The killer of a five-year-old girl has died in custody more than four decades after the murder.
Allan James Cowley, 72, died at Dunedin hospital on 11 June.
He was given life imprisonment in September 1967, less than two months after he killed Anne Elizabeth Overend at Weraroa Domain in Levin, and had been imprisoned at the Otago Corrections Facility.
Lawyer Stephen Franks accompanied the Overend family to parole hearings for Cowley in the past.
In a recent letter to Mr Franks, the family says the death is pleasing because it lifts a huge weight from their hearts.
Mr Franks says he's proud to have helped make at least one life sentence genuine, and wants more life sentences to mean what they say.
Although Cowley's death is believed to be from natural causes, the Dunedin coroner says an inquest will be held.