Elderly Father Poisoned In 'Horrific Death'

Hunter Valley police are convinced Douglas Thrift died in suspicious circumstances.

The 71-year-old was found dead at his Denman property on December 1, 2018, and a post mortem examination revealed he had been poisoned.

“Mr Thrift had a fatal concentration of the highly-toxic strychnine in his system,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“Strychnine is a restricted substance.”

The poison is primarily used as a pesticide, most commonly to kill rats, however, small amounts can be found in street drugs such as LSD, heroin and cocaine.

Police said Thrift was "in good spirits" on the day he died, and officers are looking to speak to anyone who had contact with him in the days leading to his death. He played a game of golf not long before his death, police said.

Police are appealing for information in the poisoning death of Douglas Thrift. Image: Supplied

"Very sadly and unfortunately, Mr Thrift would have suffered quite a horrific death," Detective Inspector Matthew Zimmer said.

"From all accounts, Doug was a loving father, grandfather. He was very actively involved in the community. He was into his sports, into his rugby, cricket golf... he actually played a round of golf shortly prior to his death."

Zimmer said investigations had not unearthed any enemies Thrift may have had, and that the man was a "very well-respected member" of his local community -- adding further mystery to his sudden poisoning.

The death of the father of six rocked the Hunter Valley, where he’d had an illustrious league career with Singleton Rugby Club.

Image: Supplied

At the time, The Bulls honoured its club great, who’d played in five premierships and had clocked up 117 grade games.

“The Club would like to extend their condolences to Doug's family and friends,” the club wrote on its website.

“While we mourn his passing we are grateful and honoured that we can count Doug as one of our own.”

He is survived by his sons Matt, Kyle and Adam and his step sons Chris, Damien and Simon.

On Fathers Day, Kyle posted a picture of his dad on Facebook, calling him his "hero”.

“[You] will always be in my heart. Happy Dad’s day, dad,” he wrote.

Detectives from Hunter Valley Police have established Strike Force Farview to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death.

Featured image: Supplied.