Diplomat's neighbour: He was weird

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 17:21 02/07/2014
Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail

ENJOYING A BBQ: Malaysian diplomat Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail barbecuing.

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The former neighbour of the Malaysian diplomat who is accused of attempted rape says he was ''weird, a bit quiet, and very strange''.

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail was able to leave New Zealand having invoked diplomatic immunity despite being accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman in her home.

Sean Gordon, who lives directly behind the house Rizalman and his family occupied on Miles Cres in Newlands, Wellington, said Rizalman and his family moved in about a year ago.

They had replaced another Malaysian family and had been welcomed by Gordon and his partner, who brought them a plant as a gift.

''We did the Kiwi neighbourly thing, it's the Kiwi way and all that.''

While they did not have as good a relationship with Rizalman and his family as they had with the previous tenants, Gordon said Rizalman's wife and children were very friendly.

However Rizalman was ''weird, a bit quiet, very strange''.

''He was really quiet, like he always had something on his mind.''

Everything had been normal until about a month ago when Rizalman disappeared. His wife and children remained in the house.

His wife stopped talking to the neighbours. A week ago several cars and a moving truck arrived, the house was stripped and the rest of the family left.

Gordon said the behaviour had been bewildering but everything had clicked after Rizalman was identified in the media.

It was outrageous that his former neighbour had been allowed to leave the country after being accused of such a serious crime and he should be sent back to New Zealand to face justice, he said.

''This is a guy who I had a beer with, said gidday to up on my deck, I even did all the weed killing for him.''

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