29 Jul 2010

Swing bridge operator avoids prison sentence

5:41 pm on 29 July 2010

An adventure tourism operator found guilty of the manslaughter of a Massey University student who died while bridge-swinging has avoided a prison sentence.

Alistair McWhannell, 47, was sentenced in the High Court in Palmerston North to serve 400 hours' community work and pay $10,000 emotional harm reparation to the family of Catherine Peters.

Ms Peters' family read victim impact statements to the court in which they spoke of the effect her death has had on them.

Her father Bosco Peters said he was horrified and ashamed there were no regulations for adventure and outdoor commercial operations.

Ms Peters died after McWhannell failed to set a swing rope to the correct length and failed to ensure the rope end was tied and secure during an event he organised for the Massey University Alpine Club in March last year.

Justice Young said McWhannell's remorse was tempered by his continued claim that he was not entirely responsible for Ms Peters' death when the evidence overwhelmingly established that he was.