Kenyan police: New Zealander wasn't driving

Last updated 18:27 10/02/2013
The group from Tauranga's Bethlehem College who travelled to Kenya. Caitlin Dickson (front, centre) and Dr Brian and Grace Johnston (back row, centre) were killed in a minivan crash.
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The group from Tauranga's Bethlehem College who travelled to Kenya. Caitlin Dickson (front, centre) and Dr Brian and Grace Johnston (back row, centre) were killed in a minivan crash.

DRIVING, OR NOT? Christopher Mmata.
3 News
DRIVING, OR NOT? Christopher Mmata.

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Kenyan authorities are insisting that it was local man Christopher Mmata who was driving when four people were killed in a van crash in Kenya earlier this year, despite Tauranga's Bethlehem College saying it was 18-year-old student David Fellows.

One News reported tonight that Kenyan police had cleared Fellows of any wrongdoing.

Initially it was reported the driver was Kenyan man Mmata - one of those killed, and that the actual driver,  Fellows had been told to maintain that story.

It was then revealed by Bethlehem College that it was Fellows who was the driver. Kenyan police were now saying they believed it was Mmata based on the rib injuries he sustained and the damage to the van.

An independent inquiry has been commissioned following revelations that Fellows might have been the driver of the van which killed four of their group, including three New Zealanders; doctor Brian Johnston, his wife Grace, and 19-year-old Caitlin Dickson.

The New Zealanders were among seven adults and a dozen Bethlehem College students working at the Ark Quest Academy in the village of Mahanga.

School Board of Trustees chairman Greg Hollister Jones said Kenyan police had come to their own conclusion about the crash, despite the school saying Fellows had admitted he was the driver.

The college supplied the Kenyan police with all the information that it had received, Hollister Jones said.

"As soon as we were told that there was evidence to suggest there was somebody else who was the driver that information was relayed to the New Zealand police."

That information was then passed on to Kenyan officials, he said.

The independent inquiry into why there was a delay in correct information coming out, conducted by a private investigator, would continue as it was about making sure the school's students were safe for the future, Hollister Jones said.

"All I can say is that (Kenyan police) have reached a conclusion."

Principal Eoin Crosbie has previously said immediately after the crash Fellows accepted responsibility, but was quickly told to keep quiet by a group liaison in Kenya until Fellows' family could be informed.

Fellows has so far refused to front to answer questions about the accident.

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