$700 raincoat sparks tradie feud
This is the story of a plush harbourside development, a feud over a $16,000 tree-lopping bill and an angry tradie who "kidnapped" a raincoat and held it to ransom to encourage developers to pay his bill.
And what started as a garden-variety building dispute has developed into a months-long police investigation.
Welcome, to the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
The story began on a harbourside property in Sutherland Cres, Darling Point, which has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation for the past 12 months.
The property was purchased under the name of Danielle Elkorr, the best friend of former cricketer Michael Clarke's ex-wife, Kyly Clarke, for $11.125 million in late 2015. Ms Elkorr is the wife of successful property developer Joe Nahas.
The four-storey rebuild, which one source suggested involved millions of dollars spent on imported Italian tiles alone, is led by luxury builder-developer firm Komplete Construction.
In March, arborist George Palmer, who has worked on eastern suburbs developments for 30 years, was contracted to cut down a large fig tree.
According to Mr Palmer, when his $16,000 bill was outstanding, he decided to "borrow" the raincoat of foreman Anthony Balletta to encourage payment. Of course, being the eastern suburbs, this was a Musto jacket, a high-end sailing brand only available at a handful of places, with prices up to $1600.
"I borrowed the raincoat to help him with his memory and promised to return it once he got his invoicing up to date," Mr Palmer said.
"I was shocked to see two police officers at my door late at night and in the middle of our COVID lockdown asking about Anthony's raincoat. I assured them that my only intention was to inspire payment under the terms of an accepted quote and gave the police both the raincoat and the outstanding invoices."
The two Rose Bay police officers took the jacket from Mr Palmer but, rather than return it to its owner, seized it as part of the investigation. Mr Palmer claims his invoice was paid 65 days after it was due - but with a big deduction.
Komplete Constructions director Kanaan Kanaan claimed the theft of the raincoat, which he said was actually a ski jacket, was captured on CCTV and $700 was docked from Mr Palmer's invoice.
"It's a very expensive jacket," he said.
"We said when we get the jacket back, we will give you the money and, on his final bill, we deducted the value."
Despite the rigmarole, Mr Kanaan said he didn't expect to see anyone charged.
"It's not like he has threatened anyone or hurt anyone," he said.
But Rose Bay police may have other plans. A spokesman confirmed police had been investigating the jacket theft since March 25.
"During the course of the investigation, police received information about alleged illegal dumping and trespass at the site, as well as alleged threats," the spokesman said.
"No charges have been laid and inquiries are continuing."
The illegal dumping relates to a huge ficus tree trunk that was left on the site last month.
Mr Palmer said he then offered to remove the logs but it is understood they were taken from the site after a couple of days.
Meanwhile, he remains $700 out of pocket for a raincoat - or ski jacket - that is in Rose Bay police station. Mr Balletta did not return calls from The Sunday Telegraph.
Mr Nahas's business Coronation Property is behind the $600 million transformation of the old paper mill at Liverpool.
Originally published as $700 raincoat sparks eastern suburbs tradie feud