Police investigating the death of Hastings drug dealer Philip Cowan hope his body will one day be found.
Detective Inspector Stephen Vaughan, head of Operation Veedub, says police understand why a defence application under section 347 of the Crimes Act was successful. The decision, which acquits three men charged with Philip Cowanâ€™s murder, was announced today in the tenth week of the trial.
"The decision closes one of the longest and most difficult investigations by Wellington police," Mr Vaughan says. "Our interest now is on coronial inquiries and in finding Philâ€™s body.
"Itâ€™s always been our hope that we will one day reunite Phil with his family. Their lives have been on hold for the last two years and it will help them move on if someone could tell us where to find the body."
Mr Vaughan says the case has been a challenging one for police, given that the investigation started three monthâ€™s after Mr Cowan was last seen alive in Wellington on 25 March 2001.
"Weâ€™ve spoken to a huge number of people during a year-long investigation, and have learned a great deal about the cannabis drug trade.
"Philâ€™s family have been very supportive and we thank them for that."