Alleged killer of Michael Joseph Graham set to appear in Christchurch court today

A man killed at an east Christchuch property on Sunday was to have appeared in court today on charges of assaulting police, wilful damage and resisting arrest.

But in a grim twist, his alleged killer was in the dock instead – and faced abuse from the dead man’s family.

Michael Joseph Graham, 57, died at a house on England St, Linwood, on Sunday.

Emergency services were called at 2.50pm and told he needed medical assistance.

When they arrived he was dead.

The active charges he was facing were withdrawn this morning.

Soon after, the man charged with murdering him appeared in the same court.

Nathan Te Hana, 46, was arrested last night.

Court documents reveal he lived at the same property as Graham.

The property is made up of three Housing New Zealand homes – and it is unclear whether Te Hana lived with Graham or was an immediate neighbour.

Yesterday police released Te Hana’s name and photograph, appealing for the public to help find him as they wanted to speak with him about the alleged murder.

Today as Te Hana was brought into the dock Graham’s son shouted abuse.

He was asked to leave the courtroom and was escorted out by security staff.

A duty lawyer asked for name suppression on the grounds that Te Hana wanted to tell his family directly of his plight.

But Judge Stephen O’Driscoll declined and remanded Te Hana in custody without plea to the High Court in Christchurch on February 4.

No bail application was made.

“I’m sorry, Nathan,” a woman said in the public gallery as he was led back into custody.

Meanwhile, friends of Graham are shocked by his death.

One woman who had known him all her life said it was “upsetting” to hear what had happened to him.

“Michael was a softie who sadly got stuck in the world of addiction,” she said.

“He tried a number of times to get his life back on track but could not sustain it.

“We all liked Michael, so it is with a heavy heart many of us are extremely sorry this was his ending.”

The woman said Graham was unemployed and single.

She contacted the Herald after learning of his death because she wanted people to know his name.

“He had such huge potential but sadly he never got to use it,” she said.

“All he ever wanted was a loving wife and family.”

Initially police were treating Graham’s death as unexplained but after a thorough scene examination at the Housing New Zealand property where he died and a post-mortem examination, the investigation was escalated to homicide.

Graham’s friend had been told how he died but for legal reasons, the Herald cannot report specific details at this stage.

It is understood Graham lived at the England St house and had flatmates.

The Herald has learned the house was known to emergency services.

In the past year paramedics had been called to the property many times after alleged assaults – one where a person was not breathing.

It is unclear how or if Graham was connected to these callouts.

On New Year’s Day Kane Wayman died at Christchurch Hospital after being dropped off there with critical injuries.

Four people have been charged with his murder. All have name suppression and remain in custody awaiting their next appearance in the High Court at Christchurch next month.

The two alleged murders are not thought to be connected.

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