Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Contractors charged with stealing from quake-damaged homes

Abandoned properties in Christchurch have been a target for vandals and thieves. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Abandoned properties in Christchurch have been a target for vandals and thieves. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Three young contractors have been charged over a series of burglaries and an arson in the quake-damaged Christchurch residential red zone.

Andrew Michael Hunton, a 21-year-old roofer, appeared from custody at Christchurch District Court today charged with 11 burglaries covering eastern suburb properties in Azure Place, Cerbera Close, and several in Atlantis Street, between August 1 and 13.

Hunton has also been charged with the arson of the Azure Place property, which now belongs to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

Two co-accused facing the same charges, Jordan Harrison, a 19-year-old concrete worker, and builder Bradley Burlton, 18, were given registrar's remands at the criminal counter this morning which meant they didn't have to appear before a judge.

Hunton however is in custody.

Duty lawyer Keith Owen dropped a potential application for bail - which had not been opposed by police - after Judge Gary MacAskill raised concerns over the seriousness of the charges.

And when the police prosecutor raised the fact that the properties were owned by Cera, Judge MacAskill said it was "not something that really assists'' Hunton.

The judge said the courts had issued repeated warnings that burglaries would not be taken lightly.

Hunton, of Mairehau, also faces a charge of supplying cannabis and one of shoplifting.

He was remanded in custody until September 19, but could appear earlier for a bail application.

His co-accused, Harrison and Burlton, will appear in court on September 23.

The residential red zone has been hit by a spate of suspicious fires in recent weeks.

Police have increased patrols in the hard-hit areas and have asked that any suspicious activity is reported to them immediately.

Detective Inspector Greg Murton today said the work done by a team of detectives in this area of the city will continue.


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