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Friendly homeless man touched many hearts

MARIKA HILL AND EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014

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A homeless man who died a violent death is being remembered as a friendly guy who loved his family, but his battle with the bottle cost him dearly.

Police have confirmed they are treating the death of Maqbool Hussain, 49, as a homicide.

Flowers have been placed outside the vacant grocery store on Dominion Rd where his body was found on Monday afternoon. The store is opposite the Balmoral police station.

Areeb Taimoori was neighbours with Mr Hussain in the 1990s. At that time, Mr Hussain worked as a taxi driver and lived with his wife and daughter in Mt Roskill. They were a happy family until alcohol cost him his job and wife, Mr Taimoori says.

"He was a genuinely nice guy, but he had a problem with alcohol. It broke his family apart."

His wife and daughter moved to Australia and Mr Hussain began living on the street.

"It's really sad he had to die by himself. He had a beautiful family, brothers and a lot of people who knew him."

Hello Sailor frontman Graham Brazier, who runs a bookshop on Dominion Rd, says he regularly shared a friendly smile with Mr Hussain.

"He was very well dressed and always said hello. I have heard that if he drank he could get a little abusive … but I never saw that side of him. He didn't seem aggressive."

Mr Hussain could often be seen sitting on a bench outside the Hollywood Dairy on Dominion Rd.

Mr Brazier says he was shocked to hear of his violent death.

Balmoral resident Dave Watson says people who lived nearby kept an eye out for Mr Hussain.

Another resident Jane, who withheld her last name, says Mr Hussain had even touched the heart of a schoolboy aged about 13 who would bring food to the homeless man.

"It just shows how lovely and compassionate people can be, he was just so sad when he heard."

Mr Hussain had been living rough in a partially enclosed storage area at the former grocery store for almost a year.

Detective Inspector Chris Cahill says Mr Hussain was fatally assaulted between 6.30pm on Saturday and midday on Monday.

Police have already spoken to people who saw Mr Hussain alive on Saturday.

"We're obviously very interested in hearing from anyone who has information about who he might have had interactions with recently."

Mr Hussain is originally from Pakistan but has lived in New Zealand since 1992.

His funeral was held on Wednesday at Waikumete Cemetery.

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- Central Leader

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