DETECTIVES in New Zealand believe a Kendal man who camped close to where a body was found could be a ‘key witness’ in a murder inquiry.

Officers in north-east city Gisborne are investigating the death of 22-year-old agricultural worker Amandeep Singh, who was discovered in bushes at Kaiti Beach on Thursday (January 24).

He had been missing for nearly a month.

After speaking to locals, police have traced a man from Kendal, who was in the area with friends at the time, as they believe he could hold crucial evidence about the apparent killing.

Inquiries suggest the visiting 26-year-old camped on the beach in a tent for up to five days in late December.

Around that time – December 30 - Mr Singh’s worried housemates reported him missing.

Speaking to the Gazette from New Zealand this week, Detective Glen Yule said he believed the Kendal man may have been an ‘unwitting witness’ able to assist the inquiry.

“I have spoken to several people who spoke to him as they were walking along the beach,” he said.

“English people who now live in Gisborne spoke to him and he said he was from Kendal - they remembered it from knowing about Kendal Mint Cake.

“He was sleeping rough on the beach and, from what they say, he was waiting for his friends who were in a camper van which had broken down in Coromandel, (a city about 280 miles away).

“Another gentleman who spoke to him said he believed he was going down to the South Islands.

“He may have seen people on the beach or heard something that he thought was nothing and then went on his way.

“People could have walked right past him just two or three feet away and not realised he was camping there. He could be a key witness.”

The killing has so shocked the coastal community that a fund has been set up to help Mr Singh’s family pay for travel and funeral costs.

Around 15 officers are working on the case but no arrests have yet been made.

Police are pursuing several leads, but Detective Yule ruled out any racial motive.

He added: “There aren’t a lot of homicides (murders) here so it’s affected the community and people really want to get it resolved.”

A post-mortem examination on Mr Singh was due to take place this week.