Rena pair face perversion-of-justice charges

By Kiri Gillespie

The collapsing containers on the Rena. Photo / Alan Gibson
The collapsing containers on the Rena. Photo / Alan Gibson

Rena's captain and second officer have been accused of altering the GPS location on the ship's computers and charts after it struck Astrolabe Reef.

The pair faced 11 new charges when they appeared in the Tauranga District Court yesterday. The men, whose identities remain suppressed, are now charged with "wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice" after the 236m cargo ship ran aground in the Bay of Plenty early on October 5.

The captain has been charged with three additional offences under the Crimes Act and the second officer with two additional offences in relation to altering records, each carrying a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.

Both men have already been charged under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act with "operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk" and under the Resource Management Act relating to the "discharge of harmful substances from ships or offshore installations".

The men stood side by side in the dock yesterday, poker-faced except for their eyes, which darted from their lawyers, to the media, and to the judge.

The captain's QC, Paul Mabey, requested the matter be dealt with at a later date.

He said there was concern the new charges would not be able to be dealt with in conjunction with the existing ones and there was a large volume of evidential material that had to be sorted through in relation to the new allegations.

Judge Robert Wolff granted the request and the matter was adjourned until February 29.

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