The convictions and fines of the engineer behind Tauranga's failed Bella Vista Homes development have been wiped.
Bruce Cameron, alongside his company The Engineer Ltd, were convicted on a number of charges relating to the housing debacle that resulted in a $14.2 million buy-out by Tauranga City Council.
Among the charges, Cameron stood accused of inspecting building works and handing producer statements to council that outlined his satisfaction that the works were compliant.
Earlier this month, however, lawyer Gregor Allan argued in Rotorua High Court that both Cameron and The Engineer Ltd should be acquitted of all charges as Cameron did not carry out or supervise any building works.
His appeal followed prosecution by Tauranga City Council, which saw charges brought against Cameron and The Engineer Ltd as well as former developer Danny Cancian and the now liquidated Bella Vista Homes Ltd.
The council laid charges in relation to eight properties in the Pyes Pā subdivision, and Cameron and The Engineer Ltd were convicted on charges relating to 297, 301, 303 and 307 Lakes Boulevard.
But Justice Graham Lang agreed with Allan's assertion, and said Cameron in fact wasn't liable.
In his judgement, Justice Lang said: “When the council opened its case the prosecutor advised the judge that the charges against Mr Cameron and The Engineer were based on the fact that they had filed producer statements (referred to as PS4s), confirming that work had been carried out in accordance with the consent when this was not the case.”
Producer statements are issued by construction industry professionals, such as chartered engineers, designed to provide assurances to an authority that design and construction complies with the New Zealand building code.
“I consider the issuing of producer statements in relation to non-compliant building work does not give rise to liability under s40 of the 2004 Building Act,” continued Justice Lang.
“This is sufficient to dispose of the appeals by both Mr Cameron and The Engineer.”
Cancian’s appeal against conviction also succeeded in relation to a charge laid relating to the dwelling built at 301 Lakes Boulevard, but appeals against two remaining charges failed.
The original charges were connected to alleged issues with improper wall heights, a lack of vertical reinforcing and the wall footing, which was deemed inadequate to hold soil loads.
A third charge related to another home where timber cladding was allegedly not installed or constructed in accordance with approved plans.
In total, 21 homes were declared dangerous and had to be evacuated in March 2018 as cyclone Hola headed towards Tauranga. They were later sold to local developer Classic Group, having cost city ratepayers over $14 million.
Further conversations are expected with Cancian’s counsel and Tauranga City Council later this week in relation to his sentence appeal.