Pensioner under police investigation

A Picton pensioner is being investigated for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with two young boys he befriended.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is being investigated by police after a complaint was made from a worried member of the public.

He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the incident was a misunderstanding.

The boys, both members of a community group the man was involved with, are both under16-years-old.

The man is alleged to have asked to sleep in the same hotel room as the pair, but not the same bedroom, in his capacity as self-appointed youth liaison leader.

Yesterday, the mother of one of the boys, says their family had trusted the man.

She says the matter has affected the whole family.

“He’s a groomer. We put our trust in him and all the he was grooming our son behind closed doors.

“I had no understanding what a groomer was before this and now I know, that’s what he is,” she says.

A spokesman from the community group, who asked not to be named to protect the identity of the children involved, says police have been investigating the claims for six months.

“The parents and the children are both getting counselling, but all we keep hearing from the police are excuses,” he says.

Asked by the Marlborough Weekly about the claims, the man vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

“I told a boy who had a body odour problem that he had to pull back his foreskin to clean it properly,” he says.

The alleged offender, who says he was in the army for 8 years, claims he was told “not to come back” to the group where he had been a long-time member.

When the allegations first came to light, the group member was told he was no longer welcome.

A trespass notice means he cannot get in contact with the alleged victims.

“I hope I get a big apology, but I’m not sure I’d go back,” he said when approached about the claims.

The spokesman says the group had no choice but to remove the man from the group.

“When something like this happens, you either remove the children or the person who the claims are about.

“Alarm bells had been ringing for a while. Just little things that didn’t mean much on their own but when you add them all together give you something to be concerned about.

“The children and their parents have been through so much and deserve an end to this nightmare.

“They are the important ones in all this,” he says.

Subash Raizada must pay three former staff an ERA hearing has found. Photo: Supplied.

Restaurant boss’s wage cheat costs thousands

The owner of an Indian restaurant who tried to cheat staff out of wages has been ordered to pay them nearly $60,000.

Blenheim man Subash Raizada, 57, also known as Roger Raizada, owns Maharajah India Ltd.

Staff accused him of harassment and trying to pressure them to hand over money or risk their immigration status.

The Employment Relations Authority found in favour of three former employees, Vibha Sood, Kulijeet Kaur and Akshay Dame.

The announcement come as it was revealed the business was to be struck off the Register of Companies.

In his findings, chief of the Employment Relations Authority James Crichton says the company, of which Raizada was sole director, owed the trio money.

“I am satisfied that Maharaja India Limited owes a total sum of $59,390.47 in respect to minimum wages and holiday pay for the credit of three employees, namely Ms Vibha Sood, Ms Kuljeet Kaur and Mr Akshay Dame”.

Raizada’s son bought the Seymour St restaurant in 2015, changing it to Raizada Indian Restaurant.

An Employment Relations Authority (ERA) hearing in Blenheim in May was told how a labour inspectorate began an investigation in March 2015.

Staff claimed several incidents where they had been underpaid or not paid at all.

Kaur revealed she was told by Raizada that her visa was dependant on him and that she should pay him $35,000.

Dame did a week’s work with Raizada, as a trial. In a statement Raizada told him he would need to pay $35,000 if he wanted the manager’s position. Dame turned him down.

Raizada responded by saying the staff had never worked for him and accused them of fraud.

“But those stories simply are not credible,” Crighton says.

“Mr Raizada’s position appeared to be that none of these folk actually worked for the company and that the documents were simply structured to suggest that they had worked there.

“Ms Sood gave evidence that she had to pay back wages to the employer after she had been paid them.

“The evidence from Ms Sood’s bank account quite clearly supports her testimony that she was paid wages and then was required to rebate some of that payment either back to Mr Raizada or to another employee who then provided that sum to Mr Raizada,” he wrote.

Raizada was convicted in the Blenheim District Court on representative charges following guilty pleas to offences under the Immigration Act 2009 and the Crimes Act 1961 in February 2019.

He was ordered to pay $5000 to Kaur in part recompense of her managerial services and complete 80 hours of community service.

Former Junction Hotel owner Mike Pink. Photo: Supplied.

Bar boss pay out to “humiliated” manager

A humiliated part-time bar manager whose bosses told her she had a “superiority complex” has won a $28,606 payout.

Dawn Langdon told the Employment Relations Authority that her job at the Junction Hotel left her “so stressed” she was forced to resign.

Owner Mike Pink was ordered to pay compensation of $18,000 plus additional costs including reimbursement of lost wages, holiday pay and Kiwisaver contributions.

An Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision released last week by authority Helen Doyle found in favour of Dawn.

She ruled the Marlborough woman was “unjustifiably constructively dismissed and unjustifiably disadvantaged.”

“Mike Pink is ordered to pay to Dawn Langdon the sum of $18,000 without deduction being compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

“There were other actions by Mr Pink in breach of good faith obligations that seriously damaged the employment relationship,” she says in her findings.

The findings come after Mike told the tribunal hearing that the Junction Hotel was owned by a company and not himself personally.

The ERA could find no evidence of that, they said.

Dawn worked at the pub, which has since been sold, from 1 August 2017 to 4 March 2018. She was paid $16 gross per hour.

She told Mike about worries she had concerning bullying behaviour directed at her but says she was made to feel like she was the cause of the problem.

In response to what he called a “tirade” of emails about the situation, Mike told his unhappy employee that she owed him $500.

“In view of the constant e-mails, personal meetings and other contacts you have bombarded me with since you commenced employment with us … I feel it only fair that I should be recompensed for the time wasted unnecessarily.

“I have had to spend hours in replying to your tirades which has kept me away from doing my normal work and as I am partially incapacitated at present, I find this totally unacceptable.

“I think that a figure of $500 is fair and I expect to receive this within 7 days,” he wrote.

Mike also claimed he had lost customers and in one case a company has “discontinued to lodge and eat here” with a loss of up to $1000 per week.

Langdon resigned on the grounds that her employer had breached his duty.

She later said at an ERA investigation meeting in Blenheim on 23 May that Pink made her feel like a “complete failure”.

“I am extremely upset and humiliated over the way I have been treated, when measured against the commitment and loyalty I have shown your business during my employment,” she wrote.

Mike and wife Hazel have sent bought the Wave Café and Courtyard in Picton.

Sergeant Tamati Te Tua says police are targeted on a semi-regular basis. Photo: Matt Brown.

Police cars barrier bonanza

Police cars in Marlborough will be kitted out with barriers to help protect police officers from assault.

See-through barriers will be installed in police cars across the region as soon as possible.

The move is geared towards protecting officers from offenders who may lash out, kick or spit.

Blenheim police Sergeant Tamati Te Tua says police are targeted on a semi-regular basis when taking people back to the station.

The final barriers will be fitted to Marlborough police cars as soon as they are available. Photo: Supplied.
The final barriers will be fitted to Marlborough police cars as soon as they are available. Photo: Supplied.

It has happened to him, he says.

“[Barriers] are something that have been planned and researched for some time, and this is now the final product”.

“It will stop stray feet coming through, officers being grabbed and, potentially, spit coming through.

Each barrier costs around $500.

Trials using full perspex barriers were undertaken in Taranaki and Whanganui in 2017 but caused issues with visibility and interfered with the rear-view mirror.

The full barrier also made it difficult for tall police officers to adjust their seat position.

The final, approved polycarbonate barriers cover the narrow gap between the two front seats and are designed to prevent anyone slipping an arm or hand through.

“If it’s for the safety and protection of officers when driving, it’s got to be good,” Tamati says.

“It also offers extra protection if someone has to transport a prisoner and they’re the only one in the vehicle.”

Tamati, who joined the police in 2001, now looks after Blenheim’s 10-car police fleet.

He says as soon as the barriers are available to the fleet, they will be fitting them, but not every car will need them.

“It’s about officer protection and staff safety,” he says.

Marlborough councilors at the opening of the Seddon water treatment plant. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Water thieves target Seddon?

Soaring water bills are causing a headache for some Seddon residents – and a thief could be to blame.

Bills as high as $3,000 a quarter have been sent to some homes using water metres installed after the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016.

Frustrated homeowners are calling on Marlborough District Council to act.

But one resident says a construction firm brought in to investigate the issue, have revealed the water could be being siphoned off deliberately.

Fed-up resident Sara Grigg says she was billed the equivalent of one year’s normal use in one quarter alone recently.

“We just had our second bill since moving in, all our water usage yearly allocation was used on the first account first bill of $300 which was odd.

“The second bill was the same and got us wondering if this was legit?

“I can’t get over how we have to pay so much for water that is detrimental to our human health and can’t be consumed,” she says.

The mum of two says her family of four do not use much water.

“We barely water in summer as we only have a small patch of garden”.

Awatere Water Supply consumer meters are read every four months – in October, February and June.

Homeowners are billed via a minimum four-monthly charge and volume or via a combined charging structure.

Some owners have been offered partial refunds on their bills by Marlborough District Council who have confirmed they are investigating the matter.

But leaks are not the likely cause of high bills, says a spokeswoman.

“For the Awatere and Seddon Water Supply there was a small flurry of leak calls relating to the 2013 and 2016 earthquakes, however there has been no discernible ongoing earthquake leak issues brought to our attention.

“If others in the community have concerns about their water charges, they should contact council to discuss this further,” a spokeswoman says.

“Where high consumption is noted by staff, council makes contact with customers to advise them.

“In between readings, Council expects customers to monitor their own consumption so they can identify any leaks promptly.

Residents have reported a range of bills, varying from $30 to $3000, with one lady discovering her water was being stolen.

Knowing what normal consumption for their household is should mean households spot problems earlier, says council.

Blenheim police are appealing to the public for information. Photo: Matt Brown.

Search for good Samaritan

A good Samaritan helped the victim of an attack by taking him to the police station.

Police are appealing for the public’s help in tracing the person who went to the victim’s aid after he was assaulted by four other men around 9.20pm on Saturday 6 July.

The man was discovered by a member of the public who helped him get to safety at the Blenheim Police Station.

Police have not revealed where exactly the attack took place.

Officers are also looking for information about the assault and the main offender who is thought to be a male, in his early 20s, with dark hair and wearing a long sleeve white dress shirt.

If you are the person who assisted or you know who they are, please contact Blenheim Police on 03 578 5279.

Information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Caitlin Fuller with one of the rocks which has hit their Blenheim home. Photo: Matt Brown

Rocky mystery for puzzled residents

Mysterious rocks crashing onto a house roof have left a Blenheim homeowner feeling like Chicken Little.

Perplexed homeowner Trish Fuller says she’s starting to feel like the book and movie character after stones started falling from a seemingly clear sky.

And it’s not just her South St home that’s been affected, her neighbours have fallen foul of the mystery too.

Several ideas have been floated, from coconut-carrying African swallows to rambunctious kids with slingshots, but the random pebbles remain a mystery.

On Monday night, she called the police but there was “nothing for them to go on,” she says.

“Initially, we thought it was kids, but on a Monday night?”

The rocks have been falling every night, every couple of hours, Trish says.

“It’s quite scary when it happens, it gives you a fright.”

“They’re not dropping out of the sky, well they are, but they’re coming from somewhere.

Trish, on a Facebook post, asked Marlburians whether it was feasible birds could be the culprits.

“When I went to Darwin last year, they have birds that collect shells and stones to make a beautiful nest,” she says.

“Maybe we have birds like that?

“But why would they do it at night?”

Trish’s daughter, Caitlin Fuller, says they have been racking their brains to come up with plausible reasons for the boulder barrage.

“We have no idea,” Caitlin says.

“Because why would someone throw stones? That’s the question isn’t it, why would you?”

Neighbour Peter Snowden saw rocks arcing over from an adjacent property during the day. Photo: Matt Brown.
Neighbour Peter Snowden saw rocks arcing over from an adjacent property during the day. Photo: Matt Brown.

The enigma seemed to raise more questions than answers until neighbour Peter Snowden arriving home from work saw a volley of stones arcing from a nearby property.

“I was talking to the builder and another great big one hit the fence while we were talking,” Peter says.

“We thought it was coming from the construction site next door, someone throwing stones”.

Peter described the stone-throwers as idiots.

“I knew it wouldn’t be children, they would have to be adults.

“It’s only a matter of time, when they’re throwing them during the day, that someone’s going to get hit.

“It’s put a few dents in the iron.

“One time, we thought it was fireworks.

“It wasn’t just one at a time, there would be a bunch of thumps, three or four at a time.

Peter and Trish have both called the police, they hoped it was the end of the mystery.

A police spokesman says their enquiries into the thuggish vandalism are ongoing.

Blenheim Community Patrol are looking to expand the service to Picton. Photo: Supplied.

Picton ‘mischief makers’ on notice

They pledged to help make their communities a safer place and Picton mischief-makers are next in their sights.

Blenheim Community Patrol volunteers have been so successful in their bid to help police they have been approached to set up a regular beat in Picton.

The team hope to recruit more people to help catch potential troublemakers and “steer them” towards a more positive path.

Patrol coordinator and volunteer Moira Conroy says early intervention is key.

“There are a few young ones over there who think they can get up to mischief.

“We’d like to deter them young so they don’t end up in prison,” she says.

Since it began in 2017, the patrol has seen volunteer numbers rise and fall but are currently steady at seven with one recent addition to the team.

Proving to the public they were there to help and not “tell tales to the police” was the first step in building trust, says Moira.

“When we first started there were some negative comments from some of the young ones that we were there to go running to the police.

“Word’s getting through that we’re there to help and are looking out for people and their welfare,” she says.

For Moira, one night in particular stays in her mind when the patrol were on hand to help an assault victim.

Pale and starting to go into shock, the young woman had blood dripping down her face.

Community Road Patrol were out on the streets of Blenheim and rushed to help.

“The police just can’t be everywhere and we can help fill gaps,” Moira says.

“We’ll keep an eye out for people struggling to get home, those who have had too much alcohol and just can’t manage it alone.”

But it’s not just in town that the crew have proven their mettle.

From helping find a drunken wedding guest lost in a vineyard off of Rapaura Rd to calling ambulances, the team have all gone through a rigorous training process.

Moira says that volunteering is a commitment but people are also needed to help with administration and fundraising.

“It’d be nice if a couple of people could commit to some fundraising for us. They’re are heaps of avenues for fundraisers but we just haven’t got the time”.

To find out more about Blenheim Community Patrol email [email protected] or visit facebook.com/blenheimcommunitypatrol/

Twenty-seven-year-old Jessica has been missing since 19 March. Photo: Supplied.

Missing woman’s family raise reward money

The family of missing Renwick woman Jessica Boyce hope a reward will lead to information to reunite them.

Twenty-seven-year-old Jessica has been missing since 19 March.

With no confirmed sightings of her since, her cousin and close friend Aaron Goodwin, has launched a bid to raise $50,000 to use as a reward.

He says he hopes the money will entice someone to come forward with details which will lead them to Jess or able them to recover her body.

“The information you provide must lead directly to Jess, or, worst case scenario, her body,” he says.

The Dunedin-based businessman launched a Givealittle page two days ago.

More than $800 has already been donated.

Any money raised will be put towards a reward, even if the total amount is not raised.

He urged anyone who thought they might be able to help to come forward as quickly as possible.

“The reward will not be shared among multiple people who provide the information we need. If you know something then first in first served, speak up quickly.

“If we don’t meet the fundraising goal, all the money still goes toward a reward.

“Please give what you can. Every bit helps,” he says.

Jessica was last seen leaving Renick in her mother’s red Holden Rodeo which was later discovered abandoned on a mountain track near Lake Chalice.

There was no sign of Jess in or near the vehicle, but her  phone, wallet, cash and phone (missing a Sim card) had been left inside.

The vehicle was unlocked with the keys still in the ignition. The battery was dead, and the fuel gauge was sitting just above ‘E’.

​Police and LandSAR searched the immediate area around Lake Chalice for much of the following week but there was no sign of Jessica.

Jess’s disappearance is still being treated as a missing persons case by police, says Aaron.

“In the event Jess is found before anyone claims the reward, the money will be used for any treatment Jess may require, with the remainder going to charity.

“If no witnesses come forward and Jess is not found, the money will be kept for a reasonable amount of time to allow witnesses to come forward at a later date, before being donated to charity,” he says.

Witnesses sought for marina smash

Alcohol could be to blame after a boat smashed into Picton’s wharf.

The boat, from Wellington was heading into Picton Marina on Friday about 5pm when it crashed into the wharf, near the Coat Hanger bridge.

Witnesses to the crash are being sought by Picton Harbour Master Luke Grogan as prosecution is a possibility.

He says he believes drink may have contributed to the crash, which left a hole of around two-and-a-half metres square.

“It was apparent to me that there had been alcohol involved. We need to find out whether that was a factor in what happened.

“Looking at CTV there were quite a number of people who saw it. It was early evening and a nice day and people had just been leaving work,

“We need to put together elements and see what factors were involved.

“I’d be very keen to hear from anyone who saw it happen or indeed saw the boat arrive in the marina,” he says.

The Sun Dancer travelled across the Cook Strait into Picton and speed has also not been ruled out as a factor, says Luke.

The Sun Dancer smashed into the wharf on Friday. Photo: Supplied.

There is a five-knot speed limit within 200 metres of the shore. Fixed speed cameras were also rolled out in Marlborough in October 2017.

“We need to look at the facts and evaluate if there’s been a breach of the Maritime Safety Act”.

Police were called to the scene on Friday and spoke to people on the boat.

The Marina is owned by Port Marlborough and Maritime New Zealand would be the most likely party to take enforcement action.

In the first instance, it is Marlborough District Council and the harbor master who oversee the initial investigation.

Luke says that inappropriate behavior is sadly not unusual.

“Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual case to have behavior that’s less than ideal.

“We want to connect with as many people as possible who saw what happened.

“From that we’re starting to build a picture of what happened and to see if speed or alcohol contributed,” he says.

Picton offers permanent and visitor berths for vessels from eight to 35 metres plus.

Port Marlborough infrastructure manager Gavin Beattie says he hopes repair work would start in the next week.

He says he did not think the rebuild would be too expensive in terms of cost.

“It doesn’t affect the structure, but we would want it repaired reasonably quickly to keep boats and wash away.

“The broken timber pickets will need to be removed and new ones put in place”.

Port Marlborough maintain a regular program of on-going maintenance, says Gavin, who has been manager at the busy port since 2012.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information that may be useful to the investigation should contact the harbour master via [email protected] or contact 520 7400.