Boy's cries heard in home tragedy

Photo Craig Baxter
Photo Craig Baxter
A boy out on a quiet street in his pyjamas, ''hysterical and upset'', alerted neighbours yesterday to an unexplained death.

A woman's body was found in a Burnett St house in the Dunedin suburb of Calton Hill yesterday morning.

Neighbours said the woman, believed to be aged in her early 40s, was ''quiet'' and kept to herself.

An intellectually disabled boy, thought to be her son, was led away from the house by family members in only his pyjamas and socks after emergency services arrived at the address.

A neighbour said she had noticed the boy ''hysterical and upset'' outside the house.''

He came out in his pyjamas and was upset and pointing to the house,'' the neighbour said.

Neighbours of the woman said they believed she, the boy and a black dog had lived in the house for about three or four months.

The family ''seemed like nice, quiet people'', a neighbour said.

''She just seemed to keep to herself,'' she said.

''Sometimes, she would scooter down [the street] with her son to school.''

Police were called to the house about noon, Dunedin Clutha Waitaki relieving area commander Inspector Jason Guthrie said.

The death was being treated as unexplained, but police were not looking for anybody else in connection with it, he said.

Sara Cohen School principal Raewyn Alexander confirmed the boy was a pupil at the school.

Police said it appeared the body had been at the house for some time, but Mrs Alexander said a Sara Cohen staff member had spoken to the woman on Tuesday.

The woman was ''unwell'', she said.

''We will support that young man as much as we can,'' Mrs Alexander said.

''Our support will be there for whatever is needed for him.''

Washing was still hanging on the clothesline at the house yesterday and mail could be seen in the letterbox.

Neighbours spoken to by the Otago Daily Times did not know the names of the woman or the boy and said they had not seen the pair since the weekend.

The woman's dog was taken away in a Dunedin City Council animal control van mid-afternoon before it was returned a short time later to family and friends who had gathered outside the house.

Police declined to release any other details about the woman's death. A post-mortem was under way this morning.