Easy Rider widow's emotional plea

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014
Gloria Davis
EMOTIONAL: Gloria Davis outside the Invercargill District Court.

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Widow Gloria Davis stepped out of the Invercargill courthouse, took a breath and made an emotional plea to company directors.

"When you have no control over the farm or the boat or the business, you should really remove yourself from the director role."

The plea was levelled at spouses also serving as directors of family-owned companies and came after Davis, the sole director of AZ1 Enterprises, was sentenced yesterday on three charges relating to the 2012 sinking of the Easy Rider.

Az1 Enterprises was found guilty of the same charges.

Davis was sentenced to 350 hours' community work and fined $3000. AZ1 Enterprises was fined $204,500.

At the sentencing, Davis told the court she accepted her responsibility but was "too emotional" to say anything else.

Crown prosecutor Karen South said the tragedy was serious and preventible. Real personal loss had been suffered by Davis and the families of the deceased, she said.

Davis dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as the victim impact statements, all of which supported Davis, were read to the court.

Families of the deceased had not wanted reparation, so no order was made, Judge John Strettell said.

Davis, a victim herself, had shown true remorse; however, breaches of the Maritime Transport Act and Health and Safety in Employment Act had serious consequences, he said.

The Easy Rider sinking resulted in the greatest loss of life in a New Zealand maritime tragedy since the Wahine, he said.

Davis had known Mr Karetai was skippering the boat despite a lack of qualification and that he was taking six passengers despite the survey certification permitting no passengers.

After the sentencing, sole survivor Dallas Reedy said the tragedy could now be laid to rest.

"Everyone can finally lay it all to rest. We can let the boys rest now, even the ones that were never recovered."

The judge had been fair and just, he said.

"We all just want the best for [Davis] and her family and the other families."

After the sentencing, Maritime NZ director Keith Manch said the organisation took no joy from the sentences and its sympathies were with those who lost loved ones.

"We are well aware of the loss that Ms Davis herself has suffered. But eight people died when the Easy Rider sank and there are important lessons that must be heeded so that this type of incident does not happen again."

The prosecution and sentencing sent a strong message to those responsible for managing the safety of fishing operations, he said.

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Gloria Davis was found guilty of:

Operating the Easy Rider knowing a current maritime document (a master holding a skipper's certificate) was required and knowing it was not held.

Causing or permitting the Easy Rider to be operated in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk to people on board.

As a director of AZ1 Enterprises Ltd, acquiescing or participating in the failure of that company to take all practicable steps to ensure that no contractor or subcontractor was harmed while doing work on board Easy Rider.

AZ1 Enterprises Ltd, the company Davis is the sole director of, was found guilty of the same charges.

- The Southland Times

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