Leaning on a walking stick, Sir Ron Brierley was offered an arm by the chauffeur of the Audi that whisked him off into Sydney's traffic yesterday, on the eve of his court hearing today on child porn charges.
"Sorry, sorry, no," he said earlier, declining to comment on the charges.
Australian media have reported police will allege Brierley was in possession of 207,000 images of child abuse and more than 500 videos when searched at Sydney airport while attempting to catch a flight to Fiji.
Brierley's presence was a contrast to the earlier insistence of a female voice over the intercom of his palatial Point Piper home, in one of Sydney's plushest suburbs.
• Sir Ron Brierley child porn charges: New details emerge
• Sir Ron Brierley charges 'relate to 200,000 photos and 500 videos of alleged child abuse'
• Sir Ron Brierley charged over child porn in Australia
• Sir Ron Brierley due in court on child pornography charges
"He's not home, sorry," she said.
The driver had loaded a suitcase into the Audi before helping Brierley to the car. It's unknown if the titan of takeovers — worth a reported $220 million — is obliged to appear at the court hearing, scheduled to begin about 11.30am today New Zealand time.
More details may emerge about the charges at what will be a first appearance at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.
The 82-year-old was arrested at Sydney airport on December 17 as he was about to board a plane to Fiji and charged with six counts of possessing child abuse material, according to a police statement.
The arrest followed a five-month police investigation, reportedly sparked by an anonymous phone call to Crime Stoppers in August.
"The contents of his laptop and electronic storage devices were reviewed, which are alleged to have contained large amounts of child abuse material," NSW Police said in a statement at the time.
Police were granted a warrant to search his Point Piper home, where he has continued living under strict bail conditions.
Neither Brierley nor his legal representative have so far issued any statement in response to the police statement and media coverage.
Brierley had earlier yesterday peered out the front gate of his home, dressed in a light blue shirt and dress navy trousers, apparently to look for the black Audi.
It was then the Herald approached him for comment, which he declined while waving his hand and retreating inside to the covered courtyard.
Brierley, knighted in 1988, was a giant of the New Zealand corporate scene through the 1970s and 1980s. He founded the much feared corporate raider, Brierley Investments (BIL), in 1961.
Writer Yvonne van Dongen, who wrote the book Brierley: The Man Behind the Corporate Legend, noted that his business exploits began to unravel in the wake of the 1987 sharemarket crash.
"BNZ posted its largest loss ever under his chairmanship, IEL imploded and in-fighting at BIL escalated. Eventually he left the helm of BNZ and was ousted as chairman of BIL and IEL."
Brierley went on to form Guinness Peat Group. That also ended in acrimony when he fell out with GPG's NZ director Tony Gibbs after 20 years working together.
Last year Brierley told the ASX he was retiring from his role as chairman of Mercantile "due to age and health issues".