Matthew Theunissen is a business reporter

$270,000 bill for jetboaters' broken backs

A jetboat operator has been ordered to pay $270,000 for taking tourists on sightseeing trips which resulted in three passengers breaking their backs.

InterCity Group earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to take all practical steps to ensure their employees' actions did not harm anyone.

Auckland resident Petulia Patey and her best friend Amanda Lee broke their backs during the holiday jetboat trip in the Bay of Islands in January last year. The second charge relates to an incident two months later that left Brisbane health worker Jan Phillips with broken vertebrae.

In Auckland District Court yesterday, Judge Phil Gittos ordered the company to pay Mrs Lee and Ms Phillips $45,000 and Mrs Patey - whose injuries were the most severe - $60,000.

He also ordered it to pay fines of $50,000 for the first incident and $70,000 for the second.

Mrs Patey earlier told the court she was instructed to sit in the back of the boat before it hit two big waves. She became airborne on both occasions and suffered a piercing pain in her back.


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