Police offer $100k reward for new info on suspicious fire that killed elderly Gisborne man

Police are offering a reward for information on the suspicious death of an elderly Gisborne man in a house fire in 2013.

Gisborne man Ronald Russell Allison. (Supplied by NZ Police) Source: Supplied

Ronald Russell Allison, known as Russell, died in a suspicious house fire at his home on Whatatutu Road in Te Karaka near Gisborne in the early hours of January 25, 2013.

Police have been investigating the deliberately lit fire for nearly eight years and announced a $100,000 reward today for information about the death.

In a statement released this morning, Eastern District Criminal Investigations Manager Detective Inspector Rob Jones said the seriousness of the case prompted the reward.

“Mr Allison was a much beloved family man, respected farmer, war veteran and well-regarded long-standing member of his community.

“We are hoping with the passing of time people now feel in a position to come forward and assist us."

At the time of his death, the 88-year-old lived alone and had limited mobility.

The forensic scene examination found the intentionally lit fire began in the kitchen before quickly engulfing the wooden farmhouse. An item of interest was also found on the lawn outside of Russell’s home.

Police are also still looking into the movements of a blue coloured Nissan March that travelled from Tauranga to Matatā, Tāneatua and Ōpōtiki and then in the direction of Te Karaka in the hours leading up to the fire.

Russell’s case recently featured on TVNZ’s Cold Case programme.

“The investigation team is encouraged by the information we have received as a result of the recent screening of the Cold Case episode, but we know there are still people who can help us finally solve this case.”

Police will pay out a reward of up to $100,000 for material information or evidence which leads to the identity and conviction of any person or people responsible for Russell’s death.

The offer of a reward will remain in force until 30 April 2021.