19 Feb 2018

Man charged with double murder over Dunedin house fire

3:28 pm on 19 February 2018

A 46-year-old man has been charged with murder over the deaths of two people in a South Dunedin house fire in January.

Two people have been confirmed dead in the fire

The scene of the fatal fire Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

David Clarke and Anastasia Neve died in the rear flat after the fire tore through a wooden villa in Wesley Street just after 5am on 22 January.

An elderly man escaped from the front flat, but neighbours could not reach the pair, beaten back by the heat of the blaze.

Police confirmed today a man who had been facing an arson charge over the fire would now also face two counts of murder.

The man is due to appear in Dunedin District Court tomorrow.

Police said earlier there was evidence that suggested the victims had died before the fire started.

Detective Inspector Steve Wood said the two charges were a significant milestone in the investigation.

"However, the dedicated CIB team still has a lot of detail to work through in order to ensure a robust, fair, and thorough investigation.

"We know the arrest for murder will assist concerned members of the community, and help the families and friends of the victims feel safer as they recover from their ordeal."

The families of the victims have been informed of the arrest, and police said they were "relieved and thankful".

Anyone with information about the fire is still urged to contact police.