Investigation after 'red zone' apartment entered
Last updated 17:51 29/03/2011
A Christchurch property investor who hired a crane to get his car keys and clothes from his 13th floor penthouse is under investigation by Civil Defence.
John Butterfield was given authorisation to enter the cordon on March 14 under Smith Cranes, an accredited demolition company, a Civil Defence spokeswoman told NZPA today.
"The authorisation was given on the understanding the pass would be used to perform demolition work in the red zone, and we are currently investigating whether Mr Butterfield was an employee," the spokeswoman said.
Mr Butterfield was overseas on business on February 22 when the quake struck, and returned on March 13 to find his Victoria Square apartment was inaccessible in the cordoned-off red zone.
So Mr Butterfield, who is part owner of the South City Shopping Centre and has a number of other city business interests, arranged a crane and got through the heavily guarded red zone, the New Zealand Herald reported.
He swung himself off a metal platform on to his penthouse balcony to pick up clothes, personal effects, and the keys to both his and wife Yvonne's Mercedes Benz cars.
He was also able to remove the vehicles from the apartment building carpark.
Mr Butterfield insists he went through "all the right channels" to get a crane into the heavily guarded red zone, and that he could not go up the stairs because there was no power in the building.
But his antics angered other business owners who have become frustrated at being stopped from accessing their premises.
High St printing company owner Joe Arts, who was detained by police last week during a protest by business owners who were not allowed through the cordon, said Mr Butterfield's actions were unbelievable.
Mr Arts said Civil Defence did not let him get vital business records from his building, with his own registered engineer.
Yesterday some business owners were allowed back to their properties in the centre of the city.
Thirty-two business owners were given one hour and two wheelie bins to collect as much as possible, Radio New Zealand reported.