7 May 2015

Forensic testing begins on car

5:58 am on 7 May 2015

Police expect to know within a few days whether there is any evidence of a missing Southland boy and his stepfather inside a car recovered from the sea.

A helicopter lifted the wreck before dropping it closer to the cove's rocky shore.

A helicopter lifted the wreck before dropping it closer to the cove's rocky shore. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

A police helicopter yesterday pulled John Beckenridge's crashed car from a Catlins cove, almost two months after he and his with his estranged stepson, 11-year-old Mike Zhao-Beckenridge, went missing from Invercargill.

Evidence points to John Beckenridge, 64, having driven his stepson off the cliff above Blue Cod Bay, near Curio Bay.

Forensic scientists carried out a brief examination of the Volkswagen yesterday and police have confirmed no bodies were seen in the wreckage of the four-wheel-drive.

The car has been taken to Invercargill and examination where scientists will continue testing.

John Beckenridge, left, and Mike Zhao-Beckenridge

John Beckenridge, left, and Mike Zhao-Beckenridge. Photo: SUPPLIED

It took police five hours and two attempts by helicopter to get the car off the rocks in Blue Cod Bay, aided by flotation bags, then lift it into a charter boat.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Bowman said it was a great relief to recover the vehicle.

He said scientists were looking for evidence that bodies were in the car when it went over the cliff.

"I think the tide will have caused a fair bit of damage to the interior of the vehicle, it's just really having a look at what's still left inside and what does that tell us." He said he expected results within a few days.

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