I told the truth: Queenstown driver


Racial abuse will not be tolerated. 

That is the message Queenstown Taxis driver Ganesh Paramanathan wants the public to take from yesterday’s guilty verdict for the Queenstown policewoman who told him to “F… off to India”.

“This will not be tolerated by the authorities,” Paramanathan says.

“I believe there should be absolutely no racial remarks made to anybody – regardless of their profession, their ethnicity, or where they come from.”

Jeanette May McNee 44 was found guilty on one charge of offensive language stemming from an incident on November 3 last year.

No conviction has been entered after defence counsel Nic Soper says he will be seeking a discharge without conviction. 

Paramanathan, who is Malaysian, says the incident is the first time he has been racially abused in his two years in the job.

“Generally, people are very nice. In Queenstown there is a mixed culture, with people from all over the world.

“It’s a friendly town.”

Ten months on, the incident still upset and “disturbed” him, but appearing in court has not been difficult.

“I wasn’t afraid to tell the truth, and all I said in court was the truth.

“All I wanted was justice, and the court has given that today.”

He is relieved the trial is “done and dusted”, and he can get on with normal life. 

Paramanathan’s employer, Grant Scannell, says his drivers encountered racist behaviour “from time to time”, but last year’s incident is the worst in his five years with the company.

“Whether this case was alcohol-fuelled or not, I don’t see that as an excuse. A police officer should know better than that.”

Southern Police District commander superintendent Andrew Coster says police “acknowledge” the finding, but can not comment further because the court process is not completed.

The officer remains on leave without pay, he says.

In court, Judge Tony Couch says McNee complained during the taxi ride and became increasingly loud and vociferous.

Two phone calls by McNee to Queenstown Taxis the next day, trying to speak to Paramanathan to apologise indicated “the effects of the cocktail of pills [painkillers] to ease pain following an unsuccessful hip operation] and alcohol had worn off”.

– Otago Daily Times