There are still times when Tarek Mills catches sight of someone with a thin frame and long black hair and for a second thinks it could be his brother Javed.
Tarek and his mother Lichelle had not seen him since he left home in April 2009. Javed left wanting to follow his dream of becoming a musician and playing guitar in heavy metal bands. He told them he wanted some space.
Throughout the year Tarek would very occasionally receive messages via social media from who he thought was Javed saying his brother was in Wellington, hanging out with fellow musicians. There had been no calls. Tarek hadn't heard his voice.
According to family friend Stuart McCallum, Javed would hang off his mother's leg as a youngster. Lurking, looking. He would scarcely be out of her sight.
She, called him her "little shadow".
Yesterday, Tarek stood next to a burgundy-coloured electric guitar built by Lichelle's partner Peter which had been placed by his brother's coffin.
After three and a half years of waiting, Tarek was finally able to say goodbye.
"Javed was always there for me," he said through McCallum. "But the one
point in his life that he really needed me I wasn't able to be there for him."
He would, Tarek added, live with that guilt for the rest of his life.
"We can't prevent the actions and decisions that other people make," celebrant Pat Cole said. "It's probably every parent's nightmare to not know where their child is."
The funeral program gave Javed's date of birth: 6th May 1986. It said he died on 23 July 2009.
In September 2011, staff from Alliance Demolition were checking a Mt Wellington house for salvageable timber when a body was found in a pile of waste on the garage floor. It took eight months for police to identify the remains. Javed's skull was missing.
It was only last week that the family received his body from the coroner. They were unable to hold a funeral.
James Grant Cooper, 24, was charged with Mills' murder and perverting the course of justice by concealing the death. Police said Javed died after an "altercation". Cooper goes to trial in July.
Javed had a brutal honesty, McCallum said. He was a caring man who was keen
to leave his mark on the world. He taught himself guitar and stored songs he had written in his head. He had told his family that he gave himself until he turned 25 to make it a musician. Then he would pack it in and get a "regular job".
He was not confrontational, McCallum added. He had a strong moral compass and was going to do things his way. There was no doubt he would break through into music, a friend commented.
"Javed, I know you know how proud I am of you," Lichelle said through McCallum, "and the great pleasure I have in saying you are my son. Stay safe until we meet again."
- Auckland Now
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