Policewoman found guilty of racial abuse
A police woman has been found guilty of racially abusing a taxi driver during a late-night fare dispute in Queenstown.
Constable Jeanette May McNee, 44, known as Jenny, appeared for the second day of a judge-alone trial in Queenstown District Court today.
Judge Tony Couch found McNee 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.
McNee was remanded at large to a nominal date of September 23 pending an application for a discharge without conviction.
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."
McNee was supported by a large group of friends and family in court, who surrounded her as she left the court and made her way to a waiting car, avoiding media.
Paramanathan, who smiled as he left court with Queenstown Taxis managing director Grant Scannell, said he was glad the case was over.
In delivering his verdict, Judge Couch said he found the taxi driver was clear and straightforward in his evidence 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 ... ''
The judge said the inference he drew from evidence was that McNee's recollection was incomplete and she said she only remembered what she thought was important.
On Monday, police prosecutor Glenn Henderson asked the taxi driver to discuss the incident, which happened between 2.30 and 3am after he picked up a group of six people from central Queenstown and drove to drop-off points in Quail Rise and Lake Hayes Estate.
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'."
The judge declined media applications for coverage inside court and for copies of the taxi CCTV footage or stills from the taxi footage.
In a brief statement, Southern district police commander Superintendent Andrew Coster said police acknowledged the court's finding.
McNee remained on leave without pay and police were making no further comment as the court process was not finished, he said.
The Southland Times