Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Mansion wine raid probed

Police called for wrong reasons in rich-list divorce, inspector suspects.

Chief Inspector John Palmer, left, with Detective Inspector Mark Benefield. Photo / NZPA
Chief Inspector John Palmer, left, with Detective Inspector Mark Benefield. Photo / NZPA

Two of the country's most senior police officers have been drawn into burglary allegations amid the divorce of one of New Zealand's richest men.

Hundreds of bottles of wine and stimulant medication were allegedly taken from a $3.25million Orakei matrimonial home of the couple, who cannot be named because of suppression orders.

The man's ex-wife told police a "political consultant" was responsible for stealing the expensive items from their home while he was on the payroll of her former husband.

The husband denies ever having met him. Police spent more than a year investigating the allegations, but in the end no one was formally interviewed.

The file was passed from a senior sergeant at Mt Wellington Police Station to Detective Inspector Mark Benefield, who investigated the Carmen Thomas murder.

Benefield recommended the file be sent for further review, and area commander Chief Inspector John Palmer was handed the file.

In his report Palmer wrote there was no firm evidence of criminal activity, and the dispute should be left in the hands of the High Court divorce action.

"While I do not wish to in any way prejudge the issue, nonetheless I am left with the uneasy observation that [the ex-wife] ... is seeking to involve police in the dispute for reasons which are relatively clear to me."

Despite having outstanding warrants for his arrest, the "political consultant", who uses several aliases, remains at large and has never been located by police.

In May the ex-wife was awarded $1800 a week while the divorce battle continues through the High Court.

- Herald on Sunday

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