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Appeal dismissed, conviction stands in bus shuttle incident

Last updated 05:00 09/07/2014

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A Waiheke shuttle operator's bid to get his conviction for disorderly behaviour overturned has failed with a High Court judge finding in favour of the police.

Waiheke Tours owner Max Walker was originally convicted and fined in Auckland District Court last year after an altercation with a Fullers bus driver.

The court heard it happened when Fullers driver Danny McLachlan was sitting in his bus at Matiatia ferry terminal on December 23, 2011 waiting for passengers off the 4pm sailing from Auckland. The packed ferry disgorged an unusually high number of passengers, some of whom queued to get on the bus.

They included residents, backpackers and a mum and dad, with two young children, who had bags and a double stroller.

The prosecution case was that Walker left his shuttle parked behind and approached the bus, going to its front door where people were boarding. The bus driver told him to go away.

Walker left the front area and went to the side of the bus to the back door where, according to police, he informed bus passengers in a raised and angry voice that Fullers did not care about its passengers, that the bus was the wrong type of transport to take, and that the bus was overloaded and illegal.

Walker told passengers he had a shuttle and could take them on it.

McLachlan got out of his driver's seat, walked down the side of the bus to the back door, grabbed Walker and wrenched him off the bus - telling him to get off before pushing him against a wall. Another bus driver intervened.

When McLachlan got back on the bus and drove away the passengers applauded him. Walker was arrested later that day after one of them called police.

In court, Walker gave evidence he was concerned the bus was overloaded and wanted to count the numbers on it.

He saw the family with the pushchair and just made a quiet suggestion to them it would be easier if they put the pushchair on his shuttle.

He said he was then assaulted by McLachlan. A button was ripped off his shirt. It all happened very quickly but when he was asked to leave by the family, he did so because he had made his point.

But after also hearing from Waiheke police constable Fred Aplin, the other bus driver and two of the passengers on McLachlan's bus, Judge McDonald found Walker guilty. The case was heard on January 31, 2013 and Walker was fined $300 together with $130 court costs.

He appealed on the grounds the judge had made mistakes and submitted that the police investigation had been based on a pre-determination to charge him and there had been an inadequate investigation.

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The case was heard in the High Court of New Zealand Auckland Registry on June 6. Judge Venning dismissed the appeal and the conviction stands.

- Waiheke Marketplace

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