It's a shocking revelation for the Upper Hunter community with the Hunter Valley Police District (HVPD) confirming that Douglas Thrift who died in 2018 at Denman, died from strychnine poisoning.
The 71-year-old was found on his Denman property by local police at about 7pm on December 1, 2018 after they received calls about a concern for welfare.
A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Thrift had a fatal concentration of the highly-toxic strychnine in his system - strychnine is a restricted substance.
Detectives from HVPD established Strike Force Farview to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death.
Detectives are leaving no stone unturned and are determined to find out how and why the substance was in Mr Thirft's system and what happened in the hours leading up to his death.
"I want to be clear, we are in possession of expert medical evidence that clearly indicates that the cause of death was in the way of strychnine toxicity, this is a restricted substance and a highly dangerous poison. Very sadly and unfortunately Mr Thrift would've suffered quite a horrific death," said HVPD Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Matthew Zimmer.
"We have information to indicate that Mr Thrift was in good spirits on the day that he passed away so we are very interested in speaking with people who may have had conversations with him in the days and hours prior to his death,"
"We need to get to the bottom of how and why this substance came to be in his system."
So far police believe the substance was ingested.
HVPD Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Matthew Zimmer.
"We are very interested in hearing from members of the community who may have strychnine missing from their properties, in particular farmers throughout NSW that may have located strychnine missing."
The substance is restrained and highly regulated throughout the state and you have to have a licence for it. In the past it has been most commonly used to control vermin and wild dogs.
From all accounts Mr Thrift was a loving father, grandfather and was actively in the community through sport like rugby, cricket and golf.
Detective Inspector Zimmer said he had played a round of golf that day making so police are working to piece together what happened between the hours of 1pm and 7:20pm when police found him.
"It is likely that Doug had some conversations with people between 1pm and 7:20pm and we would urge those people to come forward."
"There's no information to suggest Doug had any enemies. He was a very well respected member of the Denman community who was actively involved in the sporting community."
"This investigation has been treated as suspicious from day one," said Detective Inspector Zimmer.
Police are pursuing all lines of investigation through Strike Force Farview and this is an open and active investigation.
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Fardiew investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.
Image credit: NSW Police Force