Bus company pleads guilty over fatal Christmas Eve crash

Ritchies Coachlines. Photo: supplied via RNZ
Ritchies Coachlines. Photo: supplied via RNZ
Bus company Ritchies has pleaded guilty to a health and safety charge laid over the 2016 Christmas Eve bus crash near Gisborne that left three people dead.

The bus was carrying members of a school brass band that was on a four-week fundraising tour from Tonga.

The band was on its way to Gisborne to perform at a church on Christmas Day, when the bus plunged down a steep bank.

Three people were killed and many others were injured.

In the Waitakere District Court this morning, Ritchies entered a guilty plea through its lawyer to an amended charge laid by WorkSafe, for failing to ensure the health and safety of other people was not put at risk.

Talakai Aholelei who was driving the bus which crashed near Gisborne on Christmas Eve.

Last year, the driver of the bus, Talakai Aholelei, was sentenced to five-and-a-half months' home detention and had his license suspended for two years.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of careless driving causing death and 27 charges of careless driving causing injury.

He also had to pay $36,000 in reparations.

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter