Boatie denies speedboat smash charge

By Jimmy Ellingham

A yacht was extensively damaged in the incident. Photo / Chris Loufte
A yacht was extensively damaged in the incident. Photo / Chris Loufte

An Auckland boatie charged over a late-night speedboat smash says it was an accident, and he was prosecuted because of the incident was "high profile''.

Scott Gregory Barnett appeared in the Auckland District Court facing a charge of recklessly operating his boat causing unnecessary danger to people or property.

The 38-year-old carpenter, from Stanmore Bay, indicated a not-guilty plea and will be back in court in June.

Court documents say the boat involved was a "16 foot Ramco runabout named Chuck Berry'', which allegedly left onlookers reeling and rocking about 11.30pm on February 15.

Witnesses at the time said the speedboat, occupied by Barnett and his partner, smashed into a yacht before flying through the air into a wharf at Herald Island in west Auckland. Four people were injured, one seriously.

Barnett told APNZ today what happened was an accident.

"Irrespective of who says what, I was there, my girlfriend was there. It was an accident,'' he said.

"The speed was due to an accident which occurred previously.''

Barnett said he could not elaborate on that while he was working out his options for presenting a defence, but confirmed he was injured in the incident.

"Irrespective of it being an accident or not, normally I would have been issued a warning by the harbour master. Because it's high profile the police have to be seen to be doing something about it.''

A police spokeswoman said in response: "Any matters that are put before the court always have to reach a certain level of evidential sufficiency.''

Barnett has been charged under the Maritime Transport Act and, if convicted, faces a maximum penalty of four months' prison or a $10,000 fine.

- APNZ

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