Christchurch police have named the man whose body was found in a house fire in Peterborough St this week.
He was Terence James Palmer, also known as Terry Baker, 62, a man with no job or home.
An autopsy found Baker died from smoke inhalation as a result of the fire.
Baker had more than 300 criminal convictions. They ran to more than 41 pages of computer printout.
Judge David Saunders once commented that every time they printed out his criminal record for the courts they had to cut down a tree.
Baker was known as a troublesome drunk who lived rough or squatted in houses.
He had a temper and had assault convictions, but most of his offending was stealing alcohol, disorderly behaviour or breaches of the liquor ban.
He once tried to defend himself by reading a statement in court.
When he got tired of the reading, he simply said "doo-dah" repeatedly.
This became known around the courts as "the doo-dah defence".
He was often serving prison time when the charges mounted up against him, and the courts lost patience.
It was said he would arrange to be in prison as the weather got colder.
He was once bailed to get to the airport and live with his mother in Auckland.
He never made it to Auckland. Walking past a bar on the way to the airport was too much temptation.
Police say there were no signs of assault and Baker died of smoke inhalation.
The earthquake-damaged central-city property, which was used by vagrants as a shelter, was gutted by fire on Tuesday night.
The body was found while firefighters were dampening down hot spots after the blaze was put out.
The scene examination at the Peterborough Street site was also completed today.
Detective Sergeant John Gallagher said based on initial findings from the scene, there was nothing to suggest the fire was suspicious.
"However the investigation is ongoing and we are continuing to interview witnesses. We are not yet in a position to make a final determination on how the fire started," he said.
Baker's body was found in an upstairs room of the front flat at the property, an older-style weatherboard house that had been converted into flats.
Both front flats were extensively damaged by the fire, while the rear single-storey flat was relatively undamaged.
The property is in private ownership, but was vacant after quake damage.
The flats were known to have been used by vagrants, and police have been called to clear people from the property in the past.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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