Police are defending the actions of officers involved in the arrest of an autistic man found taking light fittings after the Christchurch earthquake.

Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp, 25, today pleaded not guilty to two charges of burglary of a damaged Lincoln Road property and possession of tools for burglary.

His mental disability compels him to take light fixtures.

At a previous court appearance on June 23, Judge John Strettell refused to accept the police decision not to grant Smith Voorcamp diversion and asked them to consider it for the third time.

Christchurch police subsequently referred the matter to New Zealand's Police Headquarters, which told local officers to refuse the option of diversion.

The case has now been set down for a status hearing at a later date.

Outside court, Smith-Voorkamp's lawyer Jonathan Eaton said the case had "been dragging on frustratingly" and the option for diversion had now passed.

"It's been dragging on frustratingly for everybody," Mr Eaton said.

"The parties' positions are pretty clear.

"The prosecution is not going to lie down quietly."

Mr Eaton earlier said the report he got from police said diversion was not going to be offered because of the seriousness of the case, and the public interest in it.

The building owners were astonished and extremely concerned that someone had been prosecuted for the burglary, he said.

But in a statement issued tonight, Christchurch Central Area Commander Inspector Derek Erasmus said police were satisfied with how the arrest was dealt with.

"Claims that the alleged offenders were assaulted are completely incorrect," Inspector Erasmus said.

Smith-Voorkamp was filmed by a television crew at a court sitting in the Christchurch Police Station watch house, and was described as "the face of looting", before family revealed his mental disability.

Lawyer Simon Buckingham said on the night of his arrest, Smith-Voorkamp was beaten by two officers and taunted by New Zealand Army personnel.

At his first appearance in court, Smith-Voorkamp had a black eye.

His defence team said a complaint would be laid about their client being allegedly assaulted at the time of his arrest.

But Inspector Erasmus said tonight: "We have met with Mr Smith-Voorkamp and his lawyer twice and no complaint has been made.

"Claims that Australian police or Army personnel were involved are also spurious - neither organisation was involved in the apprehension."

Inspector Erasmus says police have also followed correct procedures in
opposing diversion for the alleged offender. Strict criteria must be met in order for diversion to be an option.

"We have reviewed our decision against the diversion policy and we are
confident we have been entirely consistent with it."

Inspector Erasmus says he has personally spoken today to the owners of the property which was allegedly burgled, and says they are happy with the police handling of the case to date.

"They have advised they are more than happy for the case to proceed to court which is where they believe the matter should be resolved."

- additional reporting Herald online staff