21 Sep 2011

Police summary of facts revealed in cold case trial

5:35 pm on 21 September 2011

The man accused of killing Hauraki Plains woman Sara Niethe in 2003 told police he had been using drugs and had argued and struggled with her, but denied being involved in her death.

Ms Niethe, 32, was last seen on her way to visit the accused in April 2003. Her body and her car have never been found.

Mark Pakenham, 50, was arrested in August this year and charged with Ms Neithe's murder.

A police summary of facts was released by the Thames District Court late on Tuesday, following a court appearance by the accused in which he was denied electronic bail.

The document says Mr Pakenham told police Ms Niethe had been at his home on the afternoon and they argued over the woman wanting him to driver her home after they had been drinking.

Mr Packenham said he refused and tried to stop Ms Niethe from getting into her own car. He told police a brief struggle ensued before he let her go.

He acknowledged he has been coming down from using methamphetamine, but denied that the struggle had been violent.

The next day Mr Packenham said he went to Ms Niethe's home and handed over her sunglasses, phone, cigarettes and lighter, telling her eight-year-old daughter that her mother had left them at his place the night before.

Police say that in the intervening years, a large number of people the accused has associated with have been interviewed and some have indicated that he has, to varying degrees, indicated his involvement in Ms Niethe's death.

When spoken to again in August this year, Mr Pakenham denied this.

Mr Pakenham will next appear in court in December.