Police investigating the death of a man found in a burning car yesterday morning are appealing for sightings of the vehicle in the hours leading up to the fire.
The fire was reported at 7.20am when black smoke was seen rising from Waitarere Beach Forest. A silver Daewoo Nabira, registration XG1588, was found alight on a track inside the forest, and the body of a man was found inside the car.
The man has not yet been formally identified but he is believed to be from Palmerston North. He and the Daewoo vehicle are unaccounted for from approximately 1am yesterday morning (Wednesday, 4 May). It is known that the gate to the forest track where the car was discovered is locked overnight and not unlocked until 6am each morning so Police need to establish the vehicle's movements between 1am and 7.20am.
Detective Senior Sergeant Marc Hercock said: "It is still too early to say whether the death is suspicious but it is important that we treat it as such and carry out a thorough investigation until we are satisfied that we know the true circumstances. Ascertaining the movements of the man and the vehicle is significant to that process."
Police want to know where the vehicle was in the hours leading up to the fire, how many people were in the vehicle and whether the occupant or occupants stopped anywhere or spoke to anyone during that time. An image of a vehicle similar to the actual car is being released to help jog memories.
A post mortem is being carried out today and steps are being taken to formally identify the man, but identification may take a couple of days.
Anyone who has any information about the vehicle or any other information relevant to this investigation is asked to contact Palmerston North Police on 06 351 3600.