The scene at Mansfield Place in Phillip, where the body of a 71
year old male was discovered on New Year's Day.

The scene at Mansfield Place in Phillip, where the body of a 71 year old male was discovered on New Year's Day. Photo: Graham Tidy

Police are investigating an apparent murder in Canberra's south, less than a week after the stabbing death of a man in the inner north, in what one police officer described as an inauspicious start to the new year.

Authorities were called to Mansfield Place, a residential street in Phillip, about 2pm on New Year's Day after the body of a 71-year-old man was found in his home by friends. Police suspect he may have been killed mid-morning.

The discovery prompted a large police response of more than a dozen vehicles and a command unit, as officers prepared to conduct a forensic sweep of the area on Wednesday evening.

Police and SES conduct a search in bushland along the roadside on Hindmarsh Drive, Red Hill. Click for more photos

Police probe suspicious death in Phillip

Police and SES conduct a search in bushland along the roadside on Hindmarsh Drive, Red Hill. Photo: Jay Cronan

Detective Station Sergeant Bob Wynn said forensic staff would likely be on the scene for hours, and police would be door-knocking in the area for more information, but few details were immediately available on Wednesday night.

''The indications are that there's been foul play involved in terms of this person's death,'' he said.

''We're obviously canvassing neighbours and doing what we normally do in relation to that, but quite clearly if there are members of the public out here who have any information in relation to an incident that occurred, we suspect, about mid-morning [on Wednesday], we'd be happy to hear from them.''

View Larger Map

Sergeant Wynn said nearby residents who had already spoken to police were ''fairly shocked'' at news of the suspicious death.

''Obviously this isn't good to have an incident of this nature here in Canberra, but here we are, day one of 2014, and it's not a particularly auspicious start,'' he said.

The death in Phillip came just hours after police confirmed the death of a 27-year-old man in Lyneham on Saturday would be investigated as a homicide.

The victim was named on Wednesday as Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber after positive identification by his family, as police also revealed he died of multiple stab wounds to the body, a post-mortem report revealed.

The last known contact with Mr Sofer-Schreiber was on Boxing Day, two days before friends found his body in his Hall Street flat about 3.30pm on Saturday.

Acting Deputy Chief Police Officer Paul Shakeshaft said the investigation would be treated as a ''high priority'' and called for anyone who had been in contact with Mr Sofer-Schreiber to come forward.

He said only limited information could be released, but forensic staff were still on the scene on Wednesday and were expected to remain for some time.

''We have a number of lines of inquiry that we're pursuing. Obviously I'm not at liberty at this stage to divulge what those lines of inquiry are,'' he said.

''This is an active investigation, I would not want to release anything that could in any way undermine the investigation.

''Forensics will stay on the scene until the entire crime scene is thoroughly examined and that will take as long as it takes. It's a painstaking process, and that may take some time.''

Police would not comment on what had been found at the scene, the nature of Mr Sofer-Schreiber's injuries, nor would they say whether there was any sign of a struggle.

''What I can say is this was obviously a tragedy for the family involved and the friends of this gentleman,’’ Officer Shakeshaft said. One nearby neighbour said Mr Sofer-Schreiber often had friends coming around, and had been known to throw parties occasionally.
‘‘They would go on until fairly early in the morning, there was a fair bit of loud conversation,’’ he said.
But the parties had largely stopped in recent months, and the neighbour said he hadn’t seen or heard anything unusual in the time around Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death.
Richard and Barbara Griffiths, who also live in the complex, hardly knew Mr Sofer-Schreiber, but said it was a friendly group of residents who lived there in what was otherwise an exceptionally quiet and safe community.
They said Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death had been unsettling for some residents, particularly with the prolonged presence of police forensic teams, but they felt no fear for their own safety at all. Police said the investigation would have the full resources of the criminal investigations unit, and assured the community that more information would be released.


Anyone with further information on the suspicious death in Phillip or on Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s movements leading up to his death are asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via the website, act.crimestoppers.com.au.
Information can be provided anonymously or in confidence.