I told the truth: driver

Ganesh Paramanathan
Ganesh Paramanathan
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,'' Mr Paramanathan said.

''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 said he would be seeking a discharge without conviction.

Mr Paramanathan, who is Malaysian, said the incident was the first time he had 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 had 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 was relieved the trial was ''done and dusted'', and he could get on with normal life.

Mr Paramanathan's employer, Grant Scannell, said his drivers encountered racist behaviour ''from time to time'', but last year's incident was 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 said police ''acknowledge'' the finding, but could not comment further because the court process was not completed.

The officer remained on leave without pay, he said.

In court, Judge Tony Couch said 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 Mr 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''.