Queenstown racists put on notice

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Queenstown Taxis boss Grant Scannell has a message for customers – racially abuse one of his drivers and he won’t hesitate to go to the cops. 

And when it comes to providing the evidence “we have the technology”, he says. 

Queenstown policewoman Jeanette May McNee (44) was found guilty on Tuesday of one charge of offensive language for telling Ganesh Paramanathan, who is from Malaysia, to “F… off to India” during an incident at Lake Hayes Estate last November.

No conviction was entered because defence counsel Nic Soper said he would seek a discharge without conviction. 

Scannell told Mountain Scene video evidence was crucial to the trial, and he wants the public to know that if he takes action against a customer, he has the technology to back him up. 

A system installed in the company’s vehicles three months ago allows his drivers to push a panic button when they feel “in trouble”. The button activates an audio recorder. 

The company’s cabs already have video cameras as required by law. 

Scannell says his drivers encounter racist behaviour “from time to time”, but last year’s incident was one of the worst in his five years with the company. 

During the two-day trial in the Queenstown District Court, McNee denied telling Paramanathan to “F… off to India. You come here and get all of the Kiwi jobs; eat your f…… curry and f… off to India. This is a Kiwi job”. 

Paramanathan says the incident was the first and only time he has been racially abused in his two years in the job. 

Although his abuser was a policewoman, his respect for the police has grown since the incident. 

He pays tribute to his police liaison officer, Senior Sergeant Cynthia Fairley, of Winton, saying: “I got big support from her during the process.”