Investigators, scientists probing Pine Hill death

A large team of investigators and scientists has been assembled to probe an unexplained death in the Dunedin suburb of Pine Hill.

Gurjit Singh, 27, was found lying amid shards of glass outside his Hillary St home yesterday and police have been working to determine whether his death was suspicious. 

In an update this afternoon, Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis said Dunedin-based investigators and Christchurch-based ESR scientists were continuing to examine the scene. 

"A significant effort is being put into establishing the circumstances that led to this unexplained death," he said.

"A team of 25 investigators are interviewing and speaking with family, friends and work colleagues of the victim, to try and establish his movements prior to his death."

He said police had a responsibility "on behalf of the victim’s family and the wider community (notwithstanding our Coronial responsibilities), to establish fact".

A post-mortem examination is scheduled for tomorrow in Christchurch.

Told of plans to welcome wife

Gurjit Singh. Photo: Supplied
Gurjit Singh. Photo: Supplied

Mr Singh was excitedly sharing plans to holiday with his new wife the night before he was found dead.

This morning, Senior Sergeant Anthony Bond, of Dunedin, confirmed media reports that police and emergency services made no attempt to resuscitate Mr Singh when they arrived at the scene after the death was reported about 9am.

‘‘It’s obvious he’s been dead for a while.’’

Friends shocked at Mr Singh’s death said there were no signs anything was wrong when they were with him the night before he was found dead.

He shared with them his excitement about his wife, whom he married in India in June last year, moving to New Zealand next month to live at his Hillary St house.

‘‘He was excited for his wife to come and wanted to show her around, taking her to places like Queenstown.

‘‘He had been very excited and he had planned all these things,’’ one said.

He arrived at their flat about 9pm and left between 10.30pm and 11pm and shared pizza and soft drink.

The next day they were shocked to find out their friend was dead and were puzzled about what happened.

Otago Punjabi Foundation Trust member Narindervir Singh, of Dunedin, said that on Monday morning, a friend of Mr Singh’s got a call from his wife in India that he was not answering his phone, and so he went to check on him about 8.30am.

“As soon as he got out of his car, he was able to see from that small gate entrance that he was lying on the ground, and he was no more because he could see the open wounds,” Narindervir Singh said.

“This was pretty concerning to us because now it’s not like it will be dark at 8.30am - these days. It’s quite often light at 5.30am. At 8.30am it is broad daylight, and I’m wondering that no one passing from that area even bothered to look, or even if they have looked, they didn’t do anything.”

The friends who saw him the previous night were speaking with Mr Singh’s family and helping arrange for the body to be repatriated to India when the post-mortem was complete, which they had been told would take about three or four days.  

They said Mr Singh’s wife was distraught when she was told her husband was dead.

‘‘As soon as she found out she screamed and actually they all started screaming. They really want to know what's happened and until then they will feel unsettled.’’

The scene in Hillary St last night near where a man was found dead yesterday morning. PHOTO:PETER...
The scene in Hillary St last night near where a man was found dead yesterday morning. PHOTO:PETER MCINTOSH
Snr Sgt Bond earlier said police were talking to neighbours, investigating whether there were any cameras in the neighbourhood, and conducting a scene examination.

‘‘Regardless of whether it’s a criminal act involving a death . . . we’ve still got to investigate the circumstances leading up to that for the coroner.

‘‘We’ve still got to... at least show that we’ve done some work to identify people that may have some information to assist us, whatever way that pans out.’’  

About five hours after Mr Singh’s body was discovered, police issued an appeal for ‘‘any information that may assist enquiries’’, or any reports of unusual activity in Hillary St on Sunday or yesterday.

Dead man 'very humble'

Friends have described Mr Singh as "very humble" and without enemies.

Gurjit Singh. Supplied photo
Gurjit Singh. Supplied photo
Narindervir Singh said he had spoken to Mr Singh’s father, in India, yesterday after the death of the young man.

His father was in ‘‘deep shock’’ trying to take in what had happened, and said he hoped there would be a fair investigation by police into his son’s death.

Mr Singh had been living with his friends and only recently moved into a new house in Pine Hill.

About two weeks ago he had found his garage door open and was suspicious of a break-in and had since bought CCTV cameras to install at the house.

"He came with some dreams to this city and he might have never dreamed his life would end like that", Narindervir Singh said.

Friends described Mr Singh as "very humble" and without enemies.

A Pine Hill resident said she saw Mr Singh lying on the grass amid blood and broken glass while on her way to work yesterday.

"There were cops everywhere, and you could see the man lying on the lawn on his back."

The witness said she saw no efforts by emergency services to try to resuscitate Mr Singh.

By 3pm the body was still on the lawn but covered by a tent, the witness said.

Sunil Umat lived with Mr Singh for three years and said he was "just hard-working, a nice person to be around, very responsible".

Mr Umat could think of no reason anyone would want to hurt him.

"You can’t have a problem with him. Even if someone did have a problem, he would ignore it", he said.

Police asked anyone who had CCTV footage or saw any unusual activity in Hillary St on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 January to contact 105 and reference file number 240129/7479.

- additional reporting Rob Kidd and NZ Herald