Attributable to Inspector Dion Bennett, Acting Wellington District Commander:
Wellington Police have today filed five murder charges in relation to the fatal fire at Loafers Lodge, Newtown on May 16.
The 48-year-old man already remanded in custody on two counts of arson is now also facing the additional charges.
The victims’ families have been advised. Our thoughts are with them and we are continuing to ensure they are supported through this process.
Having finished our extensive scene examination, Police will today hand the scene at Loafers over to Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ).
Once FENZ have completed their work, the site will then be handed to Wellington City Council and the building owner.
I want to thank our partner agencies in this investigation, including FENZ and Council, for their co-operation and assistance during this incredibly difficult and detailed investigation.
Also our sincere thanks go to local residents and businesses who have been impacted since the fire occurred.
I also want to acknowledge Police’s investigation team, who have been working tirelessly and methodically to bring about today’s result.
We are thankful to Te Ati Awa for their guidance and support.
A dawn karakia will take place tomorrow for the staff involved in this operation.
Once the building is returned to the owner, we understand they plan to facilitate any return of personal property from the building in cases where rooms and/or items have not been destroyed or contaminated by fire.
There is no current timeline for this, and would require the owner to do their own due diligence in terms of safety.
Finally, Police would like to acknowledge the residents of Wellington who have been affected by this tragedy, and we hope that today’s upgraded charges will be welcomed.
Issued by Police Media Centre