Dealer did not link items to garden

Visitors at the Chinese Garden yesterday.
An investigation into how items from the Dunedin Chinese Garden being held in storage ended up on sale at a demolition yard in South Dunedin is now in its final stages. Photo: File
The owner of a demolition yard at the centre of an investigation into missing authentic materials from Dunedin's Chinese Garden says he has done nothing wrong and has nothing to hide.

An investigation into how items from the garden being held in storage ended up on sale at a demolition yard in South Dunedin is now in its final stages.

Dunedin City Council city services manager Sandy Graham said the police report on the council's internal investigation was received yesterday.

It would be reviewed as soon as possible, she said, but as the report was yet to be read, she was unable to comment any further.

Shaw's Yard owner Andy McColm confirmed to the Otago Daily Times yesterday the items had been found at his business in South Dunedin by council staff last year.

Mr McColm said he came to be in possession of the items after he was asked by a contractor to visit a council storage shed in Tahuna which was being refurbished and cleared because of asbestos contamination.

Dunedin City Council city services manager Sandy Graham
Dunedin City Council city services manager Sandy Graham

About a year ago, he was contacted by the council which said it thought the goods were from the Chinese Garden and as soon as that was confirmed, they were returned straight away.

Overall, the items in his yard were only a small fraction of what was being stored at the Tahuna site and they did not have a large monetary value, Mr McColm said.

''To be honest, I'm not sure why I bothered taking them. I think it might be the hoarder in me.''

''They invited me to come and salvage some goods prior to them being taken to a skip and being disposed of, which is something I do all the time.''

At no time was he allowed on the site without any supervision or permission, Mr McColm said.

He did not link the items at the site, which included marble, roof tiles, lamps and furniture, with the Chinese Garden.

''I've been salvaging goods out here in South Dunedin for 15 years and this situation was no different.''

Since then, he had been investigated by both the council and police and was confident the investigation would find there was no criminal intent on his behalf.

He did not want to speculate on how the items were allowed to be taken from the storage shed as he had just been caught in the middle of an unfortunate situation.

It is one of five potential fraud cases being investigated by the council.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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