IN a shocking revelation, police have announced that Denman local and Singleton sporting icon Douglas Thrift was poisoned, causing his death.
The 71-year-old was found at a rural property in Denman on Saturday, December 1, 2018, after a call was made to emergency services citing a concern for his welfare.
A post-mortem revealed a fatal concentration of strychnine, a highly toxic pesticide typically used to contain vermin and wild dogs, in his system.
It is the hope and belief of officials that the tight-knit Denman community will be able to provide much needed information.
The space of time between 1pm, when he finished a round of golf, and 7.20pm that evening is of significant interest to investigators.
Hunter Valley Police District is treating the case as suspicious, setting up Strike Force Farview to investigate.
They are now calling on the public to help them piece together the final hours of Mr Thrift's life.
"I want to be very clear that we're in possession of expert medical evidence which clearly indicates the cause of death was by way of strychnine toxicity," Hunter Valley Police District crime manager Detective Inspector Matthew Zimmer said.
"This is a restricted substance and it's a highly dangerous poison, and very sadly and unfortunately, Mr Thrift would have suffered quite a horrific death.
"We need to establish how and why this poison got into his system, so we're very interested in hearing from members of the community who may have strychnine missing from their property."
According to the advice they have received, it appears Mr Thrift had ingested the poison, although it remains unclear whether the dosage was a one-off occurrence.
The former Singleton rugby legend has been described as a loving father and grandfather who didn't have any obvious enemies.
He was supposedly in high spirits prior to his death having recently received positive health news, and was making a range of short and long term plans for his future, leaving police to believe it wasn't suicide.
They have not yet announced any person of interest in the case, but said they will continue to pursue all lines of investigation and treat it as an open investigation.
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Farview investigators is urged to contact Muswellbrook Police Station on 6542 6999, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.