Fine, community work for unlicensed tour driver

A young man with no passenger licence who drove a bus load of tourists along one of New Zealand’s most challenging highways was sentenced to a fine and community work in the Christchurch District Court.

He was driving for Alps Travel when the bus was stopped at a vehicle checkpoint on the Te Anau-Milford Highway in February 2016.

Defence counsel for Suyan Qi, 23, Nicola Hansen said he was a young hard-working man who had no previous convictions. He had strong family support.

Judge Saunders said he was sentencing Qi on charges of driving the bus without the appropriate licence, making a false statement in a log book, and presenting the log book containing the false statement to police.

He said Qi knew the route of the bus as he had been a tour guide, and he responded to a plea from his friend who had been called away to a medical emergency.

Qi pretended to be someone with a passenger service licence, but many tourists came to New Zealand from different parts of the world and expected to be transported safely, Judge Saunders said. Qi drove on a difficult road well known for many tourist accidents in rental cars.

He fined Qi $400, convicted and discharged him on the charges of making a false statement and producing the log book, and 150 hours community work for using a licence unlawfully.

The general manager of the tour company, Xu Cao, 33, had already been sentenced to 120 hours’ community work for arranging for Qi to drive the bus.

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