Missing man’s brother believes ‘something sinister happened’
The brother of missing Christchurch builder Michael McGrath believes ‘‘something sinister’’ has happened to him, as police appeal for sightings of a late 1990s silver Toyota Camry saloon in connection with his disappearance.
McGrath was last seen at his home in Checketts Ave, Halswell, about 4.30pm on May 21. His cellphone and bank cards have not been used since.
The 49-year-old, who mainly did cash building jobs, was reported missing after he failed to turn up for dinner with his mother two days later, Detective Senior Sergeant Kylie Schaare revealed on Police Ten 7 last night.
McGrath may have had an appointment in Halswell on May 22 that he ‘‘may or may not’’ have attended.
Family found McGrath’s property locked and his wallet and cash inside.
His blue Subaru station wagon, usually parked in the garage, was found in the driveway, Schaare said. Simon McGrath said he knew straight away ‘‘something bad had happened’’ to his brother, who had a good set of friends and was always on the right side of the law.
‘‘We have these nightmares, I wake up and I’m living the nightmare.
‘‘I think something sinister has happened to him.’’
Police appealed for sightings of the Toyota Camry in Halswell or the greater Christchurch area in May, particularly the period from May 21 to 23.
Detective Inspector Darryl Sweeney, officer in charge of the major inquiry, said he could provide no other details about the car.
Of the two visitors who had seen McGrath on May 21, one had been eliminated from the inquiry, he said.
Michael McGrath’s longtime friend David Benbow, a prison guard, remained a person of interest in the investigation.
Early in the inquiry police focused on Benbow’s Sabys Rd, Halswell, home and a search of the Kate Valley Landfill in North Canterbury was prompted by Benbow dropping off rubbish at the Parkhouse Rd transfer station in Wigram after McGrath went missing.
He has maintained he is the victim of a witch hunt and had nothing to do with McGrath’s disappearance.
Benbow’s 1999 Toyota Camry was seized by police from a Halswell panelbeaters after McGrath’s disappearance and returned after it was thoroughly searched.
McGrath and Benbow grew up together in Halswell, and McGrath worked on Benbow’s recently built house. Benbow broke up with his partner earlier this year and it was believed she and McGrath had started a relationship. Police are working their way through about 2700 tonnes of rubbish at Kate Valley.