'I've been here all the time': Elusive mariner turns up to face charges

The Debbie Jane grounded on Waimairi Beach in 2019. Photo: NZH / Kiwi Creative Imaging
The Debbie Jane grounded on Waimairi Beach in 2019. Photo: NZH / Kiwi Creative Imaging
Elusive mariner David Atkinson has told a court he wasn't hiding during the months he was out of contact with the justice system.

However, he still has not spoken to his lawyer about charges laid by Maritime NZ over a trawler that grounded on a beach near Christchurch in 2019.

Atkinson appeared on driving matters before Judge Russell Cooper in the Hastings District Court today.

Discussion soon turned to an arrest warrant issued in the Christchurch District Court last month after it heard that Atkinson had been off the radar since September last year.

MNZ alleges Atkinson was the skipper of the 13m fishing trawler Debbie Jane when it ran aground on Waimairi Beach in December 2019.

News reports at the time said that Atkinson and two crew members were rescued and were treated in hospital for hypothermia.

Atkinson's lawyer, Michael Starling, told the Christchurch court last month that Atkinson's phone had been disconnected and that a letter couriered to his last known address had been returned unopened.

Atkinson said today he had lost his phone, then changed his number, but he indicated he had not been trying to evade justice.

"I've been here all the time. I haven't been hiding. I live on a yacht over at West Shore [Napier]," he said.

However, he had not yet managed to talk to Starling about the case.

Judge Cooper remanded Atkinson on bail to appear in the Napier District Court on May 18.

He also advised him to get in touch with his lawyer.

The warrant to arrest was cancelled.

-By Ric Stevens
Open Justice multimedia journalist

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

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

Become a Supporter