Chester Borrows has been found not guilty of careless driving causing injury.

Judge Stephanie Edwards delivered that decision just before 5pm yesterday/Tuesday on the second day of a trial in the Whanganui District Court.

She said she was satisfied Mr Borrows' car did come into contact with two women on March 22 last year in Whanganui.

Mr Borrows accepts that they suffered injury.


The question is whether he drove carelessly, and especially whether he should have stopped.
He admits he did not stop, and the video shows wheel spokes continuing to turn.

Judge Edwards said that means the police officers present who said the car paused were mistaken.

MP Chester Borrows. Photo / File
MP Chester Borrows. Photo / File

She also rejected evidence from a protester that the car sped up as it approached them.

She is satisfied the car was moving, albeit slowly.

The three protesters expected the car to stop, and the police to tell them to move out of the way. Police expected them to move, and pulled them away when they did not.

By that point the car had come into contact with both Tracey Treadwell and Denise Lockett.

The judge accepted Mr Borrows had valid reason to be concerned for his passenger's comfort, if not their safety - concerns that might appear exaggerated or overly sensitive.

She was a little uneasy at the extent to which he felt he needed to take control of the situation, and said in future he should leave that to currently serving officers.


But she accepted that he was aware of the people around him and would have stopped if he had been asked or if there was a safety risk.

She found his failure to stop was not careless, and therefore he is not guilty.

Earlier in the trial today, Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk put it to Mr Borrows that he imperilled the safety of protesters by driving at them on March 22 last year outside Whanganui's Collegiate Motor Inn in March 2016.

On that day last year Borrows and MP Paula Bennett were leaving a business breakfast at the inn. People protesting against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) were outside, shouting and holding placards.

A Facebook post had earlier shown a photograph of Ms Bennett and a dildo with her name on it, with the words "See you soon bitch". Mr Borrows saw that as a threat, and had asked for a police presence at the motor inn.

On Monday the court heard evidence from protesters about the incident. Then Mr Borrows' lawyer Nathan Bourke asked Her Honour to dismiss the case, and she was to decide yesterday. (Tuesday).

When court resumed at 11am she said she would not dismiss it, because there was enough evidence, if she accepts it, to decide whether Mr Borrows drove carelessly in that situation.

Video of the protest taken by the Wanganui Chronicle.

Protestors in Whanganui allege that one of their members was injured outside the Quality Inn Collegiate in Whanganui this morning when her foot was run over by MP Chester Borrows’ car.

Mr Borrows maintained his composure on hearing that, and was the first to give evidence. He described the past actions of TPP protesters destroying election billboards, throwing a dildo at MP Stephen Joyce and climbing on top of his car as he tried to leave a restaurant with then Finance Minister Bill English.

He found the protest threatening and said a baton holding a flag could have been poked through a window of his car, or someone might kick the car, climb on top of it or throw the dildo.

Mr Vanderkolk said Mr Borrows had exaggerated this evidence "to the point of disbelief".

There were three police officers present at the protest, but Mr Borrows said in his experience they might not be quick enough to prevent any action. People committing similar offences had not been charged and he thought these protesters would "push the envelope as far as they could".

Leaving the inn he "inched"forward toward protesters blocking the footpath, and said he was entitled to do that to show his intention to leave.

He said he wasn't intending to imperil the lives of the protesters, and would have stopped if police had asked him or if someone had been hurt or in danger.

He said he left when the coast was clear. He was unaware protester Tracey Treadwell was hurt, but accepts her evidence that she suffered a grazed knee and soft tissue damage.

Deputy prime minister Paula Bennett gives evidence in the Whanganui District Court. Photo/Stuart Munro
Deputy prime minister Paula Bennett gives evidence in the Whanganui District Court. Photo/Stuart Munro

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett took the stand after that. She said the protest was one of the more aggressive she had seen.

She was afraid the dildo would be thrown at her, and that she would be pictured in the media with it hitting her or the window near her. She asked Borrows to lock the car and close its windows.
Sitting in front, she kept her eyes on the dashboard to avoid making eye contact. She was glad Borrows was there, and felt relatively safe once the car was locked with windows closed.

She heard someone say "Ow" as they pulled slowly toward the road, but couldn't be sure who said it or why. She said she was unaware anyone had been hurt, and surprised when police turned up to ask about it later that day.

The court was adjourned at 1.30pm, with Judge Edwards saying she would give an oral judgement at 4.30.

Chester Borrows outside court. Photo/Stuart Munro
Chester Borrows outside court. Photo/Stuart Munro

Outside the court Mr Borrows said he was happy with the decision and he thought he was driving "prudently" for the situation.

One of the protesters involved in the incident, Denise Lockett said she was disappointed in the system and described it as a "piece of theatre."

"I am disappointed in the police, in their lack of observational skills and lack of memory at times."

She said she was also disappointed more of the video wasn't played in court, because "you can see the brake lights the whole time."