8 May 2017

Women describe 'horror' as MP's vehicle struck

9:20 pm on 8 May 2017

Two women have described being struck by a car driven by the MP for Whanganui, Chester Borrows, at a protest last year.

Chester Borrows at Whanganui District Court

Whanganui MP Chester Borrows is to step down at September's election. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The National Party MP and Deputy Speaker's trial on a charge of careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury began today in the Whanganui District Court.

Denise Lockett

Denise Lockett Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

It related to an incident at a protest against the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement in Whanganui in March last year.

Mr Borrows' lawyer has applied for the charge to be dismissed.

Denise Lockett and Tracey Treadwell said they were standing across the exit of the Quality Inn Collegiate when Mr Borrows and Cabinet minister Paula Bennett left a breakfast meeting in March 2016.

Ms Lockett told the court she was filled with a sense of "horror" and thought she was "a goner" when her leg got trapped under the car and she buckled over the bonnet.

"I thought 'you're going under girl' and then I felt the strong hand of a police officer who pulled me away."

Tracey Treadwell

Tracey Treadwell Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Ms Treadwell said the vehicle driven by Mr Borrows did not brake and continued slowly towards the protesters.

She said her foot was run over by the car and her knee was struck.

"I recall being extremely worried about Denise's wellbeing - I saw her buckled over - as well as my own.

"I saw an officer grab her and pull her away. An officer grabbed me but unfortunately it was too late and the passenger wheel ran over my foot."

Ms Treadwell said she squealed out in pain.

Neither woman could remember Mr Borrows' group stopping after the incident.

Application to have charge dismissed

Mr Borrows' lawyer, Nathan Bourke, said his client's driving was reasonable considering an online threat made against his passenger, Ms Bennett.

He said all the police witnesses agreed the MP was driving slowly and the protesters had time to get out of the way.

He said the protesters had deliberately blocked the vehicle's path and there were people in the group behaving threateningly.

Mr Bourke said one protester, Phillip Rewiti, had been spoken to by police for waving around a sex toy with "Paula B" written on it.

Phillip Rewiti

Phillip Rewiti Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

He said Ms Treadwell had, according to an officer's statement, stepped back into the path of the vehicle after being moved to safety.

"You were still attempting to swarm the vehicle. Your foot and knee were only hit when you lunged at the vehicle."

Ms Treadwell said she had stayed in the same spot.

Judge Stephanie Edwards said she would make a judgement on the application to dismiss the charge tomorrow morning.

Mr Borrows pleaded not guilty last August and reappeared in November for a hearing which was subject to wide-ranging suppression orders.

The judge-alone trial has been set down for two days.