A Christchurch man who was this week charged with murdering his 5-year-old step-son is also facing accusations of benefit fraud, NZME. News Service has learned.

James Stedman Roberts, 34, appeared at Christchurch District Court yesterday accused of killing Leon Michael leFleming Jayet-Cole, a young autistic boy who died in hospital last week after suffering a serious head injury.

Roberts was remanded in custody without plea to the High Court in Christchurch on June 19.

Today, he was due to appear at Christchurch District Court on a willful omission benefit fraud charge brought by the Ministry of Social Development.


However, when his case called before Judge Tony Couch this afternoon, neither he nor his assigned lawyer appeared in court.

Ministry of Social Development lawyer Richard Williams told the court that Roberts appeared in court yesterday "in relation to the death of his partner's son".

Judge Couch recalled the case, saying: "I saw him yesterday."

Mr Williams said the ministry wanted to proceed with the prosecution, saying it will "go on a separate path, of course".

Judge Couch remanded Roberts at large to appear in court on June 18.

Leon was laid to rest at a "remembrance and farewell for our special wee dude" at Avonhead Baptist Church in Christchurch yesterday.

A death notice paid tribute to "our little superman was tragically taken from us, surrounded by his loving family and trusty sidekicks".

"Treasured, adored and greatly loved son of Emma and James, chief mischief maker of his brothers and sisters Lucas, Nadia, Anabelle, Fabian, and Liam; Giane, Daniel, and James," it said.


https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/riplittleleon# set up last week to help the family with the funeral expenses has so far raised more than $4400.