Agnew suspect sued the govt

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009

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The man accused of murdering Emma Agnew sued the government for $40,000, claiming "hurt feelings" after his racist slur prompted a public servant to hit him.

Liam James Reid, 35, also known as Julian Heath Edgecombe, was last week charged with murdering the 20-year-old Christchurch woman on November 15. Police say Agnew was suffocated.

Mourners are expected to pack Agnew's funeral tomorrow at 2.30pm in Burnside High School's 1000-seat Aurora Centre.

Reid was arrested on Tuesday at Wigram Lodge, Hornby, after arriving there early Sunday morning.

Lodge manager John Hannah said the room's tenant, who infrequently used the unit, had given Reid his keys.

In 2005, Reid, then known as Edgecombe, unsuccessfully took legal action against the government for $40,000 after claiming a public servant had assaulted him.

However, his lawyer was forced to admit in the Christchurch High Court that Reid had suffered no substantial injuries and primarily suffered "hurt feelings".

Judge Stephen Erber said at the time that Reid appeared to have provoked the attack. The employee lost his job over the April 2004 incident, and died 18 months later, with colleagues claiming his life had fallen apart.

Meanwhile, tributes for Agnew are pouring into websites from around the world.

Vanessa Abernathy wrote on site Respectance: "Emma your smile will live on forever in the hearts of those lives you have touched. May you fly free with the angels and have their wings wrapped around you."

Albert Edgecombe, Reid's grandfather and adoptive parent, said his heart was with Agnew's family.

"I certainly feel for the family. It's her that I'm worrying about, not that bloody boy. I haven't seen that boy for about 15 or 16 years and I just can't believe it. I just don't want to know any more about it."

Reid was adopted at four, after his mother left him at a Salvation Army home and moved to Australia. Reid is his mother's maiden name. His father was not interested in looking after him.

At 15 he left his grandparents' home. The Sunday Star-Times understands he lived in Australia briefly in the late 1980s, but returned under a cloud. He is understood to have two children.

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- Sunday Star Times

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