New Zealand resident in Australia, 36 year old Tamate Henry Heke, made a brief appearance in an Australian court today charged with murder
Australian police told the court Tamate Heke assaulted a man who then fell into the path of a truck on the Brisbane motorway, in an area of Logan City yesterday afternoon.
Heke cowered in the dock with his head bowed during the brief 40-second hearing before being taken back into custody. Queensland police have alleged Heke and a 50-year-old man from Munruben got into a dispute over a traffic incident. Both stopped their cars on the busy Pacific Motorway-Gateway Motorway merge at Eight Miles Plains, and had an altercation between their two vehicles.
It’s alleged the younger man then attacked the older driver, causing him to fall into the truck’s path. He was later pronounced dead at the scene. Officers say there’s enough evidence to warrant a murder charge.
Police are currently reviewing a Logan City garbage truck’s dash-cam footage of the incident, which is believed to show the moment 50-year-old Shane Merrigan fell in front of the truck.
Both the victim’s silver hatchback and a grey Holden remained on the scene after the incident. Two traffic cones marked the spot on the road where Mr Merrigan was hit.
Heke is reported to be in Australia on a working visa and is employed as a storeman, his lawyer said he had “virtually no criminal history” which makes one question why Heke was able to be in Australia on a working visa in the first place.
New Zealanders who fail the character test, or who have certain types of criminal records are currently in the spotlight in Australia after a law change last year cancelled their visas. Up to 1,000 New Zealanders are thought to be facing deportation. The first of many ‘con-air flights departed Australia and landed in New Zealand last week.