wheel drive enthusiast has described stumbling across charred
human remains in a burnt out car.
Mechanic Lance Henderson, 33, of Rangiora, and brother,
Andrew, 45, were following each other on Sunday when a burnt
out 1989 Subaru station wagon caught their attention in North
They found the remains of Shane Malcolm Bell, 28, of
Dallington, in the vehicle's driver's seat near the southern
end of Dunlops Rd, near Loburn.
The car belonged to a business associate.
A post mortem examination was completed yesterday to find the
cause of death and determine whether it was the result of
foul play, accidental or self inflicted.
Police would not discuss the post mortem yesterday.
Mr Henderson said at first he did not realise the charred
remains were human.
"It's just one of those places you drive through. Being a
mechanic I am nosy, so I decided to stop and take a look. I
noticed it was a Subaru because of the roof shape. I noticed
there was something in the driver's seat.
"I walked toward the car. I thought someone had put a dead
sheep in there to be funny.
"Everything except for the car shell was incinerated. The
front number plate was on the vehicle."
Mr Henderson, who is a member of the North Canterbury 4WD
Club, has lived in Rangiora for seven years and said the
riverbed was his "local playground".
"I always drive along that track. The police interviewed my
brother and I," he said.
"I wished we had kept on driving because it was a grisly
find. It really weirded me out. It's not unusual to see burnt
out vehicles near the area. I've been driving along this
track for about seven years and I've seen eight burnt out
"It's going to take me a while to get over this."
Police are this morning refusing to say whether Mr Bell's
mysterious death is still being treated as a possible
"At this stage the inquiry remains a suspicious death
investigation," inquiry head Detective Senior Sergeant Brian
Archer said yesterday.
"We are trying to put together a picture of Mr Bell's
movements in the days leading up to his death.
"A key component to this investigation is determining when
the car was burnt out. We now believe this was prior to
Thursday evening. A member of the public who was in the area
has come forward and indicated they had seen the burnt out
shell of the car at around 4 to 5pm on Thursday."
Mr Bell was last seen at his Dallington home on Thursday
Detective Senior Sergeant Archer said police were still
making inquiries into Mr Bell's background for clues to his
He was a self- employed car salesman, who bought cars off
Trade Me, repaired them and re-sold them.
Bullet holes found in the side of the car were not related to
Mr Bell's death, or the fire.
"A group of recreational shooters came forward and told
police they were in the vicinity on Friday evening. They have
indicated that the car was already burnt out at that time and
they fired shots at the vehicle using a rifle."
Police have spoken to Mr Bell's family and partner who were
"extremely upset and are trying to come to terms with his
Anyone with information about Mr Bell or the 1989 silver
Subaru station wagon is asked to contact police on 03 363
7400 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
- The Star