Powder Room’s problems
Electrical fault causes fire
An electricity expert was working to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a 19th century homestead on Lower Shotover Rd on Sunday.
Fire safety investigator Stu Ide said he was comfortable the fire had an electrical source.
‘‘It may be that a rodent has chewed through a wire.’’
The property in Lower Shotover Rd, once a part of Cloverdale station, was built in the 1860s. The historic wooden-clad section of the property was destroyed by an intense fire but the modern end was saved by firefighting crews.
Four families have owned the property since it was built in the mid-19th century. The fire started about 7am on Sunday, when guests staying with homeowners Phillip and Jane George were woken by smoke alarms, quickly raised their hosts and got out.
Phillip George told The Southland Times on Sunday that guests John Mills and Greg Clarke woke to smoke filling the property.
‘‘The home we loved and cherished, and it’s a tragedy for Queenstown to see such a historic home go up in flames.’’
The property was insured for $5 million. Drug-snorting DJs, naked customers and a drunk duty manager became a ‘‘nightmare’’ for a first-time bar owner in Queenstown.
The Powder Room, owned by Sydneybased ex-pat Kiwi lawyer Rajesh Patel, had a hearing on Monday for a new temporary liquor licence with Queenstown’s District Licensing Committee.
Since late last year the Eureka Arcade bar has been run on a series of temporary authority licences, as its permanent liquor licence has been vigorously opposed by police.
Last month Powder Room lawyers successfully argued that the matter should be heard by the Alcohol Licensing Authority.
Retired District Court judge and District Licensing Committee chairman Bill Unwin said Patel’s introduction to bar ownership must have been ‘‘a nightmare’’.
Footage was shown of a barman, who was on a trial night for employment, crouching behind the bar and chopping lines of powder on to a clipboard, which he then snorted and shared with a DJ.
The barman had not been hired and the DJ had not been rebooked.
‘‘There’s zero tolerance for drugs,’’ Patel said.
Sergeant Linda Stevens said that on November 23 a customer stripped naked in the bar and, after knocking into another customer, a fight started.
The man who threw punches was arrested, along with an associate of the naked man. The man charged with fighting received diversion, while the associate received a pre-charge warning.
On December 10, Sergeant Kate Pirovano checked the bar and while talking to a temporary duty manager’s noticed that her eyes were glazed. The manager was breath tested and returned a reading above the legal driving limit of 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. Patel said staff used to be able to have three drinks during a shift, but the bar now had a zero drinks policy.
Other incidents police noted were food not being available for customers during a check because stale supplies had been thrown out, and a promotion that breached licensing codes because it said a bungy jump could be won with every drink instead of any purchase.
Patel admitted that there had been teething problems with the bar, which he had been to twice since becoming an 85 per cent shareholder late last year.
Unwin reserved the committee’s decision but said it would be issued within two weeks.
Guilty in Marshall assault
Aman has admitted attacking former All Black Justin Marshall outside a Queenstown strip club.
Tai Samuel Neilson, a 25-yearold labourer, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with intent to injure when he appeared at Christchurch District Court on Monday.
Police allege Marshall was attacked by two men outside Club 88 on Shotover St on April 18.
The former rugby star did not suffer serious injuries and returned to his role as a commentator for SKY TV the following weekend.
Neilson’s co-accused, Adam Kearns, 23, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault with intent to injure and elected trial by jury.
At the time of the incident, he was in Queenstown celebrating his birthday. Kearns and Neilson had been drinking at Club 88.
Kearns claims Marshall was there also, and the alleged altercation occurred as they left. Marshall had a lawyer, Allister Davis, present at court.
Marshall says he had been in the club earlier, but he had been leaving a convenience store with a steak pie when he was attacked.
After Neilson’s guilty plea, the case was stood down so that Community Probation could make a brief report.
However, after seeing the report Judge Neave decided that the case should be remanded for a full probation report and sentencing on August 20. The report will cover his suitability for a home or community detention sentence.
The sentencing session will also address the issue of Neilson’s unpaid fines. Neilson remains on bail.
After reading the initial report, Judge Neave said: ‘‘Some of his comments don’t reflect well on him.’’
He told Neilson’s defence counsel Nicola Pointer: ‘‘You might get him to rethink the concluding comments in the report, Miss Pointer.’’
The comments were not read out in court.
The Wensley family has won a court battle over a troubled apartment complex in Queenstown.
In the High Court at Invercargill last month, Justice Mander ruled in favour of 875 Frankton Rd, a company run by the Wensley family, and ordered payment by Suresh Dandekar after a sale and purchase agreement to buy two units in 2007 went south.
Court documents say Dandekar agreed to buy two units in the Marina Apartments complex in October 2007 from Wensley Developments for $1.136 million with a deposit of $113,625.
The parties started negotiations but Dandekar raised queries about code compliance certificates and apartment balustrades, cancelling the agreement in December 2008.
Wensley served a settlement notice and in October 2010 the units were sold to another family firm, 875 Frankton Rd. Court action alleging breach of sale and purchase agreements was started in 2011.
Dandekar counter-claimed that he was allegedly induced to enter into agreements as a result of misrepresentation. The case was referred for trial but Dandekar failed to produce any substantial evidence, court documents said.
The judge was satisfied the Wensley firm proved Dandekar failed to settle and ordered sums of $409,160 and $404,042, plus interest, in favour of the Wensley firm.