Auckland City Police say the search for the killer of 58 year-old Bhagubhai Vaghela last Sunday is still wide open and that the investigation team's interest in Christopher Smith, arrested yesterday in New Plymouth and charged with a June 5 aggravated robbery in Buckland's Beach, has waned.
Detective Inspector Bernie Hollewand, officer in charge of the murder inquiry, said Smith has made some claims in the last day which have been corroborated to the extent it was unlikely he was involved in Mr Vaghela's death.
"We've said from the outset that we've got a lot of work to do and that we'd like to speak to a handful of people who have recently been involved in armed holdups. Mr Smith was one of them. To that end, the arrest of Mr Smith was helpful to the investigation but never signalled a breakthrough," he said.
"My team has been working hard this week to get the scene examined thoroughly, appeal to members of the public and local residents for any information about activity outside the Uptown Mini Mart last Sunday night, to identify possible offenders and follow up on information coming to us via the 0800 736 325 number."
He said the team did not have any conclusive information about who the armed robber was at the Parkside Dairy in Pukekohe on June 10, so was still appealing to people who know who he was, to come forward.
"We're particularly interested in hearing from anyone who was in the Uptown carpark - that's the parking area outside the Uptown Mini Mart, a neighbouring cafe, a Chinese restaurant and the exit to the apartment block called 83 Uptown - between 8.45pm and 9.15pm last Sunday, June 19.
"It's vital that we have a clear picture of who came and went from that carpark - either on foot or in a vehicle - so that we can build a picture of the movements of customers, residents and the offender around the time Mr Vaghela was murdered."
Issued by Noreen Hegarty
Auckland City Police Communications Manager
Ph 09 302 6947 or 0274-951-589