Policewoman found guilty of racism
Judge praises taxi driver’s clear evidence and discounts witnesses’ denials
The trial of a policewoman found guilty of racially abusing a Queenstown taxi driver sparked headlines around the world.
In Queenstown District Court last week, Judge Tony Couch found Jenny McNee, 44, guilty of a charge of using insulting words to Malaysian taxi driver, Ganesh Paramanathan, on November 3 last year.
He did not enter a conviction because her lawyer, Nic Soper, said he would apply for a discharge without conviction. The officer was remanded at large to a nominal date of September 23 pending the application.
The judge said he found she used the words: "F... off to India, you come here and get all the Kiwi jobs. Eat your f...... curry and f... off to India. This is a Kiwi job."
Eleven witnesses were called during the two-day trial, which attracted widespread media coverage in New Zealand and internationally in India and Malaysia.
Key excerpts from the trial:
Delivering his verdict, he said he found the taxi driver’s evidence was clear and straightfor- ward in his evidence-in-chief and during cross-examination. He discounted McNee’s evidence, the evidence of her husband Geoff and the other taxi passengers.
‘‘She [McNee] did not directly answer many of the questions put to her in cross-examination. I entirely reject the denial and accept the evidence the words complained of were said.
‘‘I am not suggesting the defendant deliberately lied under oath. This seems to be the defendant has come to believe what she wants to be true to be true.’’
Driver Ganesh Paramanathan:
After the alleged words were spoken, the driver told the court: "I was looking at her, she was facing me.
"She was pointing her finger towards my face and I pointed back at her and said, ’don’t be abusive and racist, I am only doing my job as a taxi driver’ and she got more angry and she said, ’don’t point your fingers at me’."
McNee grabbed his left wrist, squeezed and twisted, he said. Paramanathan said he told her not to touch him or be abusive and racist because he would call police. ‘‘She got very aggressive, she held the door open and said, ’I am the police’.’’
Southern district commander Superintendent Andrew Coster:
Coster said police acknowledged the court’s finding. The officer remained on leave without pay and police were making no further comment as the court process was not finished, he said.
Queenstown Taxis managing director Grant Scannell:
‘‘When Ganesh first came to me he was worried about going to the police because in his country things are a lot different.
‘‘He was worried there would be repercussions but I said no, in the New Zealand justice system that would not happen. I have actually had emails from people I don’t even know. Ganesh has received quite a few calls from Malaysia. He still has family out there.’’
Prosecutor asked why Mrs McNee called Queenstown Taxis to speak to the driver and apologise for her behaviour but made no mention of a fare dispute.
The husband replied: ’’Because it was out of character for her . . . she was disputing the fare.
‘‘She was not abusive, she was just challenging the fare. She was ringing back because she was challenging the fare . . . I had never seen her do that before.’’
Soper asked whether McNee would give evidence that was tailored to help his wife and the witness said: ’’No I would not I am in a court of law.’’
Asked about McNee’s reputation, said: ’’Jenny, I would trust her with my life. She is the most honest outstanding, caring person that I have ever met.’’.
Lozano, a Brazilian national, said she was a friend of Mrs McNee for about five years.
’’I have not met anyone with her level of integrity. We are scared [of police in Brazil]. She taught me to trust police. I would not have anything bad to say about her,’’ Lozano said.
‘‘I have suffered racism . . . I would not expose my kids or my family to anyone who is remotely racist.’’
Told the court McNee’s behaviour on the night was out of character and she had never heard her friend say anything racist.
Character witnesses Meadow Ridd:
‘‘Jenny is an extremely honest person. Our entire family holds her in very high regard.’’
‘‘She is caring and honest. She is a very sincere, open caring person.’’
Queenstown Taxis maxi-van When: November 3, 2.30am-3am, Lake Hayes Estate
Driver: Ganesh Paramanathan Passengers: Jenny McNee, husband Geoff, Janelle Crosbie, Cezaro Lozano and wife Crystiane, and Claire Powell. Judge: Tony Couch Police prosecutor: Glenn Henderson Defence lawyer: Nic Soper Note: Cezar Lozano was not called as a witness
Taxis: Queenstown Taxis managing director Grant Scannell and driver Ganesh Paramanathan leaving court.