CRIME scene technicians investigate Brian Hilton’s home on the morning of Friday, July 8 2016, and they would be back 10 days later after the house was burgled. Photo Sven Carlsson OB1689-03
  • Police determine Brian Hilton death as homicide

POLICE detectives will be working in Opotiki over the next several weeks, re-opening a cold case that has now been determined a homicide.

Eastern area investigations manager Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Standen said Eastern Bay of Plenty CIB officers had returned to Opotiki this week to revisit the case of 77-year-old Brian Albert Hilton, who died after suffering serious injuries in his home in 2016.

Mr Hilton was admitted to Tauranga Hospital on July 8, 2016 with facial injuries believed at the time to be the result of a fall in his home. He died six days later.

Mr Standen said police had recently received new information and, as a result, were re-opening the investigation and treating it as a homicide.

“We are absolutely determined to hold the person who committed this extremely serious crime to account, and bring this case to a conclusion,” he said.

The day Mr Hilton was found, and flown to hospital by rescue helicopter, police began a scene investigation at his home on the corner of Ford and Church streets.

They also interviewed neighbours and inspected security footage from nearby businesses.

A neighbour told the Opotiki News at that time that Mr Hilton had been found by a woman visiting the house and that the back door of the house had been left wide open.

On Monday, July 11, police said they had completed their forensic investigation of the house and additional Inquiries, including with medical staff, would be undertaken.

Meanwhile, Mr Hilton remained in Tauranga Hospital in a critical condition, receiving ongoing treatment.

On Wednesday, July 13 he died and a post mortem examination was conducted the following day.

Mr Hilton’s house was burgled overnight between July 16 and 17, with a small television set, a small laptop and alcohol being stolen.

As a result of the burglary, crime scene technicians returned to the house 10 days after they were there initially.

Almost a year later, in May 2017, police said they were re-activating the case after a complex post mortem and pathology review generated new information.

Now, another 18 months later and 29 months after Mr Hilton’s death, new information has come to light prompting police to announce yesterday that his death was a homicide.

sven.carlsson@opotikinews.co.nz