Trelise Cooper burglary: TV worker named as thief who broke into famed fashion designers office

The thief who broke into fashion designer Dame Trelise Cooper and stole nearly a million dollars’ worth of high-end clothing can now be named.

Nicholas James Bush’s interim name suppression expired at 5pm after the High Court confirmed he had not filed an appeal against the Auckland District Court’s decision to end his anonymity.

The 42-year-old had earlier argued for secrecy because he claimed to be a “well-known” television industry worker. Online records purport to show Bush has worked as part of the crew for TV shows, including The X Factor NZ and Jono and Ben, in the past.

Earlier this month, Bush pleaded guilty to three charges, including burglary and a representative charge of obtaining by deception. The couture criminal is due to be sentenced later this year.

The break-in occurred at Cooper’s head office in Auckland’s Newmarket last October and resulted in her entire 2021 spring and summer samples being nicked by Bush.

Court documents show between 6pm on October 17 and 8.30am on October 19 the burglary occurred at Cooper’s office and some 2000 items of clothing, valued at about $887,612, were stolen.

Speaking to the Herald after the burglary, Cooper said access was gained into the styling room through a vent in an electrical room.

Cooper has been strongly opposed to suppression continuing for those charged to help end baseless social media speculation that her staff were involved in an “inside job”.

In a statement today, Cooper said she and her staff were relieved name suppression has been lifted and Bush has taken responsibility for the burglary.

“It had an enormous negative impact for our business, financially and reputationally,” she said. “There were many false allegations made about our company’s involvement in the burglary … My reputation and integrity have been cleared now that the offender has taken responsibility and the court has allowed publication of his name.”

None of those charged by police in the case have any connection to Cooper or her business.

Bush and two others were arrested after police conducted a search of a property in central Auckland last November. Police have said “a significant amount” of the clothing has been returned to Cooper, but it continues to be recovered and in March a police prosecutor told the court “about three-quarters” was still unaccounted for.

Cake decorator and private investigator Kathy Stephens, one of the three people arrested last year, was named earlier this week after an unsuccessful High Court appeal to keep name suppression.

The 45-year-old and the third accused, 46-year-old florist Andrea Nicole Edwards, are due to stand trial together next year on charges for allegedly receiving the stolen garments, knowing it to have been pinched.

While Stephens is accused of only receiving a relatively small portion of the clothes, including two jackets and dresses, Edwards is charged with receiving the bulk of the garments worth about $500,000.

A fourth person, a 26-year-old woman, was also charged in May with allegedly receiving some of the clothing.

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