23 Sep 2014

Queenstown cop ruling worries boss

8:23 am on 23 September 2014

The employer of a taxi driver racially abused by a Queenstown police officer says a terrible message has been sent by not convicting the officer.

Constable Jenny McNee berated Ganesh Paramanathan in November last year while under the influence of alcohol and strong medication.

The police officer had been found guilty of using offensive language, and in Queenstown District Court yesterday was discharged without conviction.

The judge said McNee tried to stop her husband from paying and said to the driver to "go to India and eat your curry - this is a kiwi job". McNee, who has been an officer for 17 years, said she couldn't remember having said such things.

Queenstown Taxis managing director Grant Scannell told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme said Mr Paramanathan and his wife were very upset with the result.

Mr Scannell said the discharge without conviction may encourage offenders.

"The biggest worry that we have, that it actually puts out a message to everyone that you can abuse one of our taxi drivers and literally get away with it."

Mr Scannell said the action was that of one individual and he did not have a problem with the police in general.

"The same could happen to any employee that's in our company - they could do something silly one day as well but it doesn't mean it's the whole company that's behind it."

Judge Tony Couch said in court yesterday Ms McNee's behaviour was intolerable but to convict her would have implications on her policing career out of proportion with the gravity of her offending.

Ms McNee's lawyer Nic Soper said the police officer had apologised to the driver. He said Ms McNee could still lose her job as the police were investigating a code of conduct breach.