Tindall CCTV clip usual fare for bar staff viewing

By Debbie Porteous

Bouncer Jonathan Dixon did not think he was doing anything wrong in downloading footage of Mike Tindall in a Queenstown bar for his personal use, a court heard yesterday.

Staff at the bar regularly saved to a work computer, and watched for their own entertainment, CCTV footage of things patrons did in the bar.

Dixon, 41, is charged with accessing a computer and deliberately obtaining property after he posted online footage of the England rugby team's captain - and husband of Zara Phillips - with an old flame in the Base Bar, in Queenstown, during the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

He is alleged to have stolen CCTV footage of Tindall from the bar, where he was a bouncer at the time. He later posted the footage on YouTube.

A jury of seven women and five men heard the first day of evidence yesterday in what is expected to be a four-day trial in the Invercargill District Court in front of Judge Kevin Phillips.

Crown solicitor Mary-Jane Thomas said the Crown's case was that Dixon deliberately took the footage, knowing he was not allowed to, for the express intent of selling it.

"This was an opportunity made in heaven if you were wanting to sell something and make some money and this is what the Crown says was the accused's intention from the very beginning."

When the sale fell through, he appeared to be satisfied instead with the notoriety the video brought him.

Dixon's lawyer John Westgate, of Dunedin, said Dixon did not argue that he accessed the bar's computer, but, given the culture around staff access to the bar's security system and computers, he honestly believed he was allowed to do what he did.

Crown witness Blair Impey, general manager of the Base Bar, said he became aware two days after the incident that Dixon had footage of Tindall, but initially thought it was Dixon's own footage. He found out later Dixon had the bar's CCTV footage.

He told Ms Thomas that Dixon said he would not do anything with his personal footage if Mr Impey agreed to be part of the deal with the media on the story.

He did not consent to that, although he had to pretend he was going along with it at first in order to gain the information he needed - namely the name of the newspaper Dixon was already dealing with - so he could stop it.

Under cross-examination from Mr Westgate, he agreed staff at the bar regularly downloaded "funny" incidents from security footage from the bar to a file on a computer at the bar, for the staff's own entertainment, "but we didn't post it anywhere public".

"So, the difference for you is, if he had downloaded it and put it in a private file at work, he would not have had the same issue," Mr Westgate said.

"To us there's nothing wrong with that because it's not affecting anything to do with the bar outside the business," Mr Impey replied.

It was something staff were allowed to do but not security guards, who were only able to access the footage for security or liquor licensing reasons, he said.

Mr Impey conceded there was no written agreement or training on the matter with security guards, and he was aware Dixon accessed the work computer regularly for emails and even some work for the bar.

"I trusted him because I thought he knew his place."

- Otago Daily Times

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