DJ loses 8500 records to arson

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 15:14 15/04/2014
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VEHICLE SOUGHT: Police are seeking sightings of a 1994 Daihatsu Charade.

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RUINED: What's left of Wellington DJ Danny Lemon's record collection.
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An alleged arsonist at the storage facility, captured on CCTV camera.

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The music has stopped for Wellington DJ Danny Lemon.

Sifting through the charred remains of his 8500 dub and reggae records at Kiwi Self Storage in Kilbirnie yesterday, the founding member of Roots Foundation was in shock.

"Like everybody else, I had this hope that somehow, by some miracle, my record collection had survived, but it's been obliterated. Everything's just melted together completely."

Dozens of people visited the Rongotai Rd storage shed yesterday to see whether their possessions had escaped the blaze on April 4. Everybody was wandering the scene in a daze, shocked at the destruction, Lemon said.

"It's completely reduced to rubble."

Lemon estimates his collection was worth at least $100,000. It included boxes of 7-inch singles and original pressings from cult New York label Wackie's.

"It's an archival collection, a cultural treasure."

Some of the records would cost up to £50 (NZ$96.40) each to replace, he said.

Lemon initially thought he had had insurance included in his rental agreement with Kiwi Self Storage, but he had since been told by the company that he did not.

Offers to replace records had flooded in from around the world, he said.

Like many other Kiwi Self Storage customers, he believed he had until 5pm yesterday to take what possessions he wanted before the remainder was sent to the dump.

Yesterday, a staff member on site told Lemon that was not the case, and he could come back today to search for clothes and magazines beneath the ash.

Communication with the company had been poor, Lemon said.

He disputed director Andrew Fraser's statement to The Dominion Post that nearly all customers had been contacted, saying he had received no calls or emails.

"Everybody knows it's a difficult time, but to read in the paper that everybody's been contacted - people don't know what's going on."

SUSPECT'S NAME SUPRESSED

Meanwhile, a judge has suppressed the name of the man charged with burning the self-storage place down.

In Wellington District Court today the man, dressed in dark jeans and a jersey, appeared before Judge Kevin Glubb, elected trial by jury and pleaded not guilty.

He was charged with having damaged by fire immovable property level 2, Block B, at the storage facility.

Police announced the man was arrested today.

The judge not only suppressed the name of the man, but also the reasons for the suppression.

The defendant's lawyer, Douglas Ewen, said the defendant was not asking for bail and wanted to be taken direct to Rimutaka Prison.

Earlier Ewen had indicated that not withstanding having been charged police were continuing to interview the defendant.

During the court appearance the man pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of driving while disqualified just before 2am on February 21 in Miramar.

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He was sentenced to one month jail and disqualified from driving for nine months. The judge said it was the man's ninth conviction for disqualified driving, part of a driving history the judge said did the man no credit.

He will be back in court on June 19 when the case against him will be reviewed.

- The Dominion Post

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