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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 08:36 GMT
UK woman murdered in New Zealand
Karen Aim
Ms Aim was on a working holiday in New Zealand
A woman from Orkney has died after being attacked while on a working holiday in New Zealand.

Police in the North Island town of Taupo said they were treating the death of Karen Aim as murder.

The 26-year-old, who had been in New Zealand since October, was found in the early hours of Thursday with serious head injuries and died in hospital.

A Northern Constabulary spokesperson confirmed that the woman's family had been informed of her death.

The Foreign Office said: "We can confirm that a British national died in New Zealand on 17 January. Local police are treating the death as suspicious."

New Zealand police said Ms Aim was working at Wairakei, a nearby geothermal village.

It would be fair to say that they [Ms Aim's family] were devastated by the news
Det Sgt Greg Turner

It was her second visit to the country after an original trip in 2006 when she travelled there on a three-month visitor's permit before returning home in January 2007.

Officers found her lying on the ground after they were called to check a report of damage to a nearby college at just after 0200 local time.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner said police who attended the scene had described the attack as "ghastly".

He confirmed he had spoken to her family in Orkney and also to relatives in the Manawatu.

Mr Turner said: "It would be fair to say that they were devastated by the news."

Dozens of tributes have been posted on the internet on social networking site Bebo.

Security footage

In a message posted before Christmas, Ms Aim described how she had been travelling around the North and South islands and had done her first bungee jump.

She wrote: "Working in a glass blowing gallery in Taupo, just right up me street.. meeting lots o cool as folk over here too, living wi a kiwi and an Irish lass, right good laughs...."

Map graphic

Ms Aim was found in the early hours lying on the ground near the college suffering from serious head injuries.

She was taken to Taupo Hospital where she died.

Police have established that Ms Aim had been out with friends in bars in central Taupo before the attack.

Det Sgt Turner said: "We're currently trying to establish if she left the bar alone or not and a major part of our inquiry is obtaining security footage from the CBD (Central Business District) and further afield."

Residents living near the scene of the attack have been asked to search their houses and gardens in case a weapon or clothes have been dumped.

Police also appealed for the vandals responsible for damaging the school to contact them.

Taupo, in the centre of the North Island and on the shores of the country's largest lake, is a popular tourist destination for backpackers.

Det Sgt Greg Turner on the investigation


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