AE Fun Park owner pleads guilty to charges over death

By Imran Ali -
Flying fox at the AE Fun Park where Moses Tohu fell to his death. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Flying fox at the AE Fun Park where Moses Tohu fell to his death. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The owner of a Whangarei fun park tried to deceive safety investigators who were looking into the death of a man who fell from a flying fox at the park.

 Chris Angus, shareholder of AE Fun Park.
Chris Angus, shareholder of AE Fun Park.

Chris Angus, sole shareholder and director of AE Fun Park, has been ordered to pay $30,000 reparation to the family of Moses Tohu, who died after falling from the flying fox at the park during a work Christmas do on December 5, 2014.

After the fall Angus told investigators that the equipment had a padlock on it and Mr Tohu must have undone the lock to use the machine. But there was no padlock until Angus put one on after the inspector had left.

Angus was ordered in Whangarei District Court to pay a total to $51,000 in fines and reparation after pleading guilty to charges of obstructing, delaying, hindering or deceiving a health and safety inspector and failing to register an amusement device (the flying fox).

The charges were laid by WorkSafe.

The family of Mr Tohu has slammed Angus for deceiving WorkSafe investigators looking into the case.

When contacted for comment, Angus said there was "some element of guilt" by the company. On why he deceived WorkSafe investigators, he declined to comment.

Mr Tohu, 53, from Kawakawa, died at Whangarei's AE Fun Park on December 5, 2014, after falling about five metres from the flying fox.

The widower was with a group from Opua company Ashby's Boat Yard and Far North Holdings when tragedy struck. The park offers Northland's longest flying-fox ride, paintball and other adventure and recreational activities at Hayward Rd, Maungakaramea.

After the fall Angus told WorkSafe investigators that a padlock had been attached to the flying fox to stop it being used.

When the investigators had left Angus retrieved the flying fox and attached a padlock and sent it back down the zip line.

The WorkSafe staffer found it the next day, which suggested that Mr Tohu had somehow disabled or overcome the padlock.

Angus then demonstrated to the inspector how Mr Tohu must have disabled or overcome the padlock, despite knowing it wasn't the case.

Mr Tohu's nephew Raymond Tohu said no amount of reparation would bring his uncle back but his family was most hurt by the less-than-honest account of events by Angus that fateful day.

"He (Angus) should have come out straight rather than try and cover his tracks which put a wedge in our family. If he'd come and said it was a human error, our family would have left it at that. The process of getting the legal stuff sorted would have been much quicker as well," Mr Tohu said.

Angus told the Northern Advocate in the days after the fall that the flying fox was secured and not operating at the time of the fatal accident, and Mr Tohu should not have been using it.

A summary of facts prepared by WorkSafe said Angus told other members of Far North Holdings the flying fox was locked when it was not.

Someone appeared to have altered the configuration of the device but it was not clear when that occurred, WorkSafe said.

There was no impediment or restriction that prevented access to the device by unauthorised guests.

Angus pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay Mr Tohu's family $30,000 reparation, a $3000 fine and $130 court costs on the charge of failing to register an amusement device. He also admitted the second charge and was fined $18,000.

Mr Tohu left behind a 6-year-old son.

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