Po­lice­woman found guilty of racism

Judge praises taxi driver’s clear ev­i­dence and dis­counts wit­nesses’ de­nials

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JOHN EDENS

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:

Judge Couch:

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.’’

Ge­off McNee:

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.’’

Janelle Cros­bie

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.’’.

Crys­tiane Lozano:

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.’’

Claire Pow­ell:

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.’’

Dono­van Percy:

‘‘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

Photo: JOHN EDENS/FAIR­FAX NZ

Taxis: Queen­stown Taxis man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Grant Scannell and driver Ganesh Para­manathan leav­ing court.

Jenny McNee

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