Train trip operator given more time to plead

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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The operator of a train trip that never eventuated has been given another six weeks to enter pleas on a range of Fair Trading Act charges.

Roger Sutherland, formerly of Christchurch, was due to appear in the Christchurch District Court on Thursday to plead to 43 charges relating to an advertised train trip to the Dunedin Elton John concert in November 2011.

Complaints from Timaru people who booked a train trip to the Dunedin concert form part of the case against Mr Sutherland.

Sutherland, New Zealand director of Racing Tours and Promotions, replaced the train with a bus not long before the concert.

Late last year a judge told Sutherland he would need to enter pleas to the 43 charges when he appeared in court on January 31. He did not appear. Sutherland told his lawyer he was ill and unable to travel from Blenheim where he lives.

He has now been ordered to appear and enter pleas on March 14.

The charges relate to misrepresenting that a train trip was being offered through advertisements in newspapers including the Timaru Herald, the tour company's own website and faxes sent by the company.

Some charges relate to the "celebration class" tickets, which included drinks and beverages during the trip. Others involved undisclosed transaction fees allegedly charged.

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- The Timaru Herald

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