No charges laid after quake building inquiry

Police won't lay charges over the death at St Christopher's Book Market on Riccarton Rd during the Christchurch earthquake. Photo: NZ Herald / Brett Phibbs
Police won't lay charges over the death at St Christopher's Book Market on Riccarton Rd during the Christchurch earthquake. Photo: NZ Herald / Brett Phibbs

Police will not lay any charges in relation to the earthquake death at St Christopher's Book Market on Riccarton Rd.

Henry Ross Bush (75) died when the facade collapsed on his parked car during the February 22, 2011, earthquake.

Detective Inspector Darryl Sweeney said police are also unlikely to pursue charges into the death of tattooist Matt McEachen, who died trying to escape falling rubble at the Southern Ink tattoo parlour on Colombo St.

Police said yesterday they are awaiting final reports into their investigation into the collapse of the CTV building, and the Ballantynes car park building on Lichfield St.

Linda Arnold (57) was killed when a concrete panel fell from the Ballantynes car park building, and 115 lives were lost in the CTV collapse.

Detective Inspector Sweeney said police had assessed the Southern Ink case for criminal charges and engaged several experts to examine the report.

"[Police] do not believe that charges should be laid in this case," he said.

Matt's father, Bruce McEachen said he was absolutely gutted by the decision.

He knew exactly how long he had spent waiting to hear if someone would be held responsible for the death of his son: 2250 days.

Mr McEachen's voice was tense with anger as he described his feelings hearing the charges had been dropped.

"We're devastated. It's quite tough to live with," he said.

Matt was 25, a talented artist and self-taught musician, and had been working as an apprentice at Southern Ink.

Mr McEachen still believes his son would not have died if people responsible for the safety of the shop had "done the right thing".

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission in 2011 found the building had been yellow-stickered by the city council, which meant it was not supposed to be occupied.

But the building was initially incorrectly labelled with a green sticker.

Emails shown to the royal commission showed Southern Ink owner Matt Parkin had repeatedly asked Harcourts property manager Christopher Chapman if the building was safe.

Mr Chapman was asked at the inquiry why he did not tell the tenants at the building about a report he was given on February 11, which said the building was unsafe.

Mr Chapman said he was no longer involved in the property at that point, so he passed on the report to the overseas building owner, Joy Chang.

Mr Chapman has been charged with misconduct by the Real Estate Agents Authority, and the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal has called for a formal hearing into his handling of the case, which is set to happen later this year.

Mr Chapman did not answer calls from The Star.

- The Star Christchurch

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