Homicide inquiry launched into Christchurch death

Christchurch police have launched a homicide inquiry into the death of a 28-year-old Sri Lankan man whose body was found in a burning house on Wednesday.

The victim has yet to be formally identified but is believed to be Sameera Chandrasena. He was the sole occupant of a house in Domain Road, Oxford, north of Christchurch, which was extensively damaged by fire on Wednesday morning.

Detective Inspector Virginia Le Bas said a post mortem conducted on the body yesterday indicated the deceased had died as a result of injuries consistent with an assault and was dead prior to the fire starting.

”As a result of our enquiries two men were arrested early this morning on charges which are not related to the death,” Le Bas said. “Both men were known to the deceased.”

One man had been arrested on unrelated assault charges and was remanded in custody until March 5 after an appearance this morning. The other man had been detained on immigration matters.

”The enquiry is continuing and we expect further charges relating to the death and the arson will be laid,” Le Bas said. A team of 25 staff were working on the investigation, which included a detailed scene examination of the Oxford property.

Police were also this afternoon searching in the vicinity of Bealey Avenue, Springfield Road, Holly Road and Manchester Street in St Albans, Christchurch, for items of clothing and property which might have been discarded.

”If anyone in that area finds any unusual items or has seen any suspicious activity in the early hours of Wednesday 23rd, we would ask them to contact Christchurch police on (03) 3637400,” Le Bas said.