Boxing: Tutaki told driver to 'floor it bro'

By Edward Gay

Richard Tutaki. Photo / Chris Gorman
Richard Tutaki. Photo / Chris Gorman

Professional boxer Richard Tutaki told his driver to "floor it bro" after being pulled over by police, a court has been told.

Tutaki appeared in Manukau District Court today where he was convicted of escaping lawful custody.

The court was told Tutaki and a friend were driving in the early hours of October 29 when they were pulled over by police in west Auckland.

Constable Victoria Baldie told the court she was working the night shift with her partner when they stopped Tutaki and his driver.

She said her partner approached the driver while she spoke to a tattooed man in the passenger seat.

Ms Baldie said Tutaki gave his first name as "Robert". He gave a date of birth and address.

Ms Baldie said she checked the information with the police communications centre and was told that Robert Tutaki did not have tattoos.

"I said to him: Your name is Richard eh?"

She said Tutaki agreed, and she told him he was under arrest for outstanding warrants. She began reading his rights and tried to cuff him but her cuffs bounced off his arm.

"The next words out of his mouth were: 'I don't want to go. Floor it, bro'."

She said the car took off and although she and her partner chased it, were unable to locate it.

Ms Baldie said that three months later, she was phoned by staff at Manukau police station to say Tutaki had handed himself in.

"He wanted to hand himself in voluntarily so he could go to a fight."

At the time, Tutaki had been chosen as an opponent for the then All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams.

The bout never took place because of Tutaki's arrest.

Tutaki told the court that he had never told his driver to "floor it, bro".

"He's a Caucasian. I wouldn't say: 'floor it, bro'."

Tutaki said they did not drive away at speed and he was surprised police didn't chase them.

He confirmed he had given his brother's details to the police because he didn't want to miss out on the fight with Sonny Bill but denied the constable ever touched him.

Judge Josephine Bouchier said she found Tutaki had problems with his memory, and the police constable was a "credible and professional" witness who took notes at the time.

"I am not suggesting [Tutaki] is telling lies, but that he can't recall."

She said regardless of whether or not Tutaki said "floor it, bro", the car left the scene.

"That in my view is a matter of common sense and constitutes an escape."

After finding Tutaki guilty, she asked the court probation officer about Tutaki's record of community service for charges that date back to 2007.

The court was told Tutaki had completed only eight and half of his 300 hours owing.

Judge Bouchier said she would sentence Tutaki for escaping custody and re-sentence him on the 2007 charges in the new year.

He is also to appear again in January on an unrelated charge of possessing methamphetamine.

Tutaki remains on the Fight For Life bill to fight Joseph Parker on December 15 despite his latest conviction.

Promoter Dean Lonergan said Tutaki was picked for the bout because he was a boxer and his personal troubles had "nothing to do with us".

Asked if Tutaki was a good role model for younger fans, Lonergan said: "probably not".

"But at the end of the day, he participates in a sport where in some cases they come from hard places and as a result don't necessarily lead exemplary lives."

- APNZ

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