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Body of student who lay dead in dorm room for weeks discovered in New Zealand

University vice-chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said it was an “extremely distressing time” for students and staff.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Mark Baker/PA Images

AN INVESTIGATION WILL be launched into the unexplained death of a teenage student who lay unnoticed in his campus accommodation for two months, a New Zealand university said.

Police found the 19-year-old’s body on Monday after reportedly being alerted when fellow students in the University of Canterbury halls of residence became concerned about the smell coming from his room.

The body was so badly decomposed that police said specialist disaster victim investigators were brought in to formally identify it.

University vice-chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said it was an “extremely distressing time” for students and staff coming to grips with what had happened.

“Despite the comprehensive pastoral care programmes in place, for us it is inconceivable to imagine how these circumstances could have occurred,” she said in a statement.

De la Rey said an independent investigation into the circumstances of the death will be launched.

The student’s identity has not been revealed, but local media said he was in his first year at university.

He was found in a private student dorm run by Campus Living Villages – a company that runs student accommodation with more than 45,000 beds in the US, the UK and Australia, as well as New Zealand, according to its website.

Local media reported the student’s stepfather had raised concerns with police after being unable to contact the student via friends and quotes a relative as saying “it’s not right, it’s just not right on any level”.

Police and the coroner are also investigating the student’s death.

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Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the government would await the outcome of those inquiries before looking at whether regulations around student accommodation needed to change.

“Clearly there’s been quite a big failure here,” he told reporters.

“And if that means that things need to change to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again in the future, then we will do that.”

© AFP 2019  

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