Trio discharged over fake pilot stunt
TV star and comedian Ben Boyce has been discharged without conviction for a botched fake pilot stunt which was condemned by the aviation industry and Prime Minister John Key.
The former Pulp Sport star was discharged, alongside The Rock host Bryce Casey and TV producer Andrew Robinson at the Manukau District Court today.
At a sentence indication hearing in May, the trio were warned they could face up to 12 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Boyce was told if he paid the police $2000 in reparation and completed 75 hours community work he could be granted a discharge.
The trio were charged with providing false information in an attempt to gain access to a secure area after a skit for the TV3 series WannaBen in September 2011 went wrong.
During the stunt, Casey was dressed in a pilot's uniform and tried to get past security at Auckland Airport during the Rugby World Cup and close to the 9/11 terror attacks anniversary.
But he was spotted by security and Boyce - who masterminded the stunt - and the TV crew were arrested.
Daniel Watkins, Craig O'Reilly and Gregory Clarke faced the same charge over the incident and were discharged without conviction and fined $250 each to cover prosecution costs in May.
Judge Gus Andree Wiltens ordered destruction of the prank footage at that hearing.
He said the stunt did not have sinister motives - but could have had significant consequences.
"All eyes were on New Zealand from overseas to see if there was a security issue. If the escapade had been successful I'm sure it would not have been seen as a joke."
He accepted the trio, involved in lighting and sound, played a minor role in the stunt. They had not planned it.
He also took into account their "low level" of offending and the effect a conviction would have on their future.
"I am convinced these offences would make your professional careers stall."
The stunt was widely condemned by the aviation industry.
Prime Minister John Key was drawn into the reaction, saying the stunt was "irresponsible from a bunch of clowns that should know better".
In a statement issued in September by TV3's owner MediaWorks, Boyce said he was "very sorry for all the trouble [the stunt] has caused".
"This was an attempt at humour which we fully accept was misplaced."
- © Fairfax NZ News