Crossdale Courts fugitive returns

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2014
Gary William Campbell

BACK IN NEW ZEALAND: Gary William Campbell

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A former high-ranking policeman who fled the country and evaded arrest could soon have his day in court.

Ex-police inspector Gary William Campbell returned from Australia on Sunday after a warrant for his arrest was withdrawn during a court hearing last week.

Campbell faces three charges after the Christchurch retirement village he owned, Crossdale Courts, went bust owing millions of dollars in 2008.

The case is scheduled to be called at the Auckland District Court on July 23, but his appearance has been excused.

This week, lawyer Michael Mann said Campbell suffered from dementia and was not well enough to comment. His wife, Bridget, died of cancer on May 31.

The couple's three children were being looked after by immediate family, Mann said.

"Both families appreciate the effect and distress of what occurred in 2008 on a number of people, both then and subsequently, and are sorry for that distress."

An investigation by The Press this year revealed Campbell fled New Zealand in June 2008, leaving behind his plush Fendalton mansion, near-new Mercedes 4WD and 24 elderly residents facing eviction. Two months later, he declared himself bankrupt from Brisbane, Australia.

A warrant was issued for his arrest in January 2009 after he refused to return home to appear in court in relation to his dealings with Crossdale Courts.

Over the past five years the residents, who each paid Campbell up to $120,000 for the right to occupy the units until death, were evicted one by one. He has never apologised to the pensioners.

Verna Veint and Joan Leeson had refused to leave their homes. However, they were forced into new accommodation last month. "I hope justice is served on him. If not, he deserves what he's got because of the way he's treated us all," Veint said yesterday.

Between 1999 and 2006, Campbell entered into contracts with 24 Crossdale residents who paid him interest-free loans, ranging from $35,000 and up to $120,0000, for the licence to occupy the units until death. Campbell promised to repay their loans, less 5 per cent, when they vacated or died.

After he fled, the Government attempted to protect the residents and used its powers to declare the complex a retirement village under the act, but this was hotly contested by the finance companies and ended up being overruled in the Supreme Court.

In 2012, a handful of the residents pleaded for the Christchurch City Council to buy the units and add them to its depleted social housing stock.

The council decided it was uneconomical.

The warrant for Campbell's arrest was issued by the High Court on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Development, now called the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE), over his failure to register Crossdale, not appointing a statutory supervisor for the complex and his failure to issue a disclosure statement to the residents.

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- The Press

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