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Gary Lendrum's contribution to policing was recognised at the highest levels. Photo: NZ HERALD/NICK REED

OBITUARY: Gary Raymond Lendrum 20.02.58-30.12.20

An icon of investigative policing


Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum, who died of cancer in December aged 62, was a legend in Police thanks to his outstanding investigative skills, personal integrity and ethics.

As Gary was farewelled last month by family, friends and colleagues, the large crowd at his funeral heard many stories about a police officer who through natural talent and hard work had been lauded at the highest levels for his handling of many significant investigations.

Gary was also a valued trainer and mentor, passing on his knowledge of investigative interviewing techniques to the next generation of detectives.

Of note was his calm and empathetic manner when dealing with members of the public and his unerring focus on the victims of crime.

Those who knew him well confirm he also had a mischievous sense of humour, especially when it came to rugby banter and stories from his many fishing trips on his boat MyTime.

Gary joined Police in 1977 in Counties Manukau, moving to the Southern Division CIB in 1984 before qualifying as a detective in 1987. Apart from a brief stint in Thames, he worked his entire career in Counties. He was promoted to detective sergeant in 1989 and to DSS in 2000.

He worked on many high-profile homicide and serious crime investigations, including the 2002 murder of 23-year-old pizza delivery worker Marcus Doig and, just a week later, the death of John Vaughan, shot dead at the ASB Bank in Māngere Bridge during a robbery.

Other significant cases included the murder of Ōtāhuhu sex worker Marlene Kelley in 2002, the stabbing of 15-year-old Kelly Lawrence in Manurewa in 2005, and the murder of Shalvin Prasad in Karaka in 2013.

From 2010 to 2014, Gary was part of the team that reviewed the Crewe murders.

Colleagues have noted Gary’s tenacity when working on a case, no matter what the difficulties.

Detective Superintendent Dave Lynch, who spoke at the funeral, said Gary’s temperament was perfectly suited to the rigours and sometimes relentless working environment of South Auckland. “Nothing would faze him too much. He used to say, you can only play the hand you’re dealt and do the best you can with that.”

Gary became widely respected both within police and by the families of victims, and those interactions with families affected him deeply, Dave said.

“When Prevention First became the Police operation model, Gary was able to talk to it with genuine authenticity. I have heard him tell many young detectives that although they may want to work on a homicide investigation to test their skills, the harsh reality was that the victim’s family would far prefer not to have met them and, for that reason, preventing homicides was far preferable to working on one.”

In recognition of his talents, in 2012, Gary was given a “special award” by the Counties Manukau CIB. A Commissioner’s medal for meritorious service followed in 2013, and 2014 he was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to police and the community. His citation included 18 homicide investigations and his pioneering investigative interviewing model that became a national standard for CIB.

In 2014, he was promoted to detective inspector and became the field crime manager based at the Multi-Agency Centre in South Auckland. In 2017, he became the district crime manager for Counties.

In 2019, Gary received his 42-year Police Long Service and Good conduct award.

Dave’s final words in tribute to his friend were: “Gary, you were a family man, a great cop, a great mate to many and you were the quintessential Kiwi good bastard… Thanks for all you have done for everyone in the police family and your community.”

Gary is survived by his wife, Lynette, son Mark, daughter-in-law Kim, daughter Sarah, son-in-law Jonathan and four grandchildren.