Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland man missing in New Zealand for eight years probably dead, says police

By Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland man missing in New Zealand for eight years is "more than likely" dead, police have said.

It comes a month after the investigation into the disappearance of Matthew Alexander Hamill was dramatically reopened.

Mr Hamill's case has been shrouded in mystery since he vanished in October 2008.

He was last seen near Queenstown, a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island.

At the time it was thought he had taken his own life, after his car was discovered with a suicide note inside.

But the case took a bizarre twist a year later when police said they were not convinced that Mr Hamill was dead. Last month Queenstown Police reopened their investigation, appealing for anyone who had seen Mr Hamill since October 2008 to contact them.

However, the appeal failed to provide any new information.

Detective Matt Jones said: "It is considered more than likely that he is in fact deceased.

"Next-of-kin and friends of Mr Hamill have been contacted as a matter of course."

Mr Hamill was 59 when he went missing, and was married with a family.

He left Northern Ireland at a young age and was well-travelled, including time spent in Canada.

When he disappeared on October 29, 2008 he left a suicide note in his unlocked car at the Roaring Meg lookout near Queenstown.

Extensive land and river searches of the surrounding area at Kawarau Gorge took place, but his body has never been found.

The last confirmed sighting of him was that afternoon, purchasing weedkiller from a local store.

Mr Hamill's silver Mitsubishi Diamante Sedan was later found unlocked at the Roaring Meg power station lookout.

In December 2009 police reopened investigations into his death amid suspicions that he could still be alive.

There had been no sightings of Mr Hamill and there had been no activity in his bank accounts since the time of his disappearance.

His family has always denied speculation that Mr Hamill had faked his own death.

The mystery has been compared to the case of 'canoeist' John Darwin in England.

The former teacher and prison officer turned up alive in December 2007, five years after he was believed to have died in a canoeing accident.

He faked his death to claim life insurance money and planned to move with his wife to Panama.

Belfast Telegraph


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