Industry denies convicted mechanics fake WOF claim

Industry denies convicted mechanics fake WOF claim

Unknown-2The New Zealand Transport Agency and the New Zealand Automobile Association have rejected the allegation of a former Christchurch mechanic that issuing fake warrants of fitness is an industry wide issue.

According to Stuff, 28-year-old, Jeremy Burrell told police he “felt pressured to act in this way” after admitting issuing 15 fake warrants receiving payment for 10 of them.

Burrell pled guilty in the Christchurch District Court to a charge of dishonestly using a document to get a financial gain. Sentencing will take place on April 22.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Glenn Pascoe says Burrell was employed at a city motor firm, Miles Toyota, doing car inspections.

From April 9 to June 4, Burrell issued several warrants separately from the firm, saying all the vehicles were roadworthy.

Pascoe says Burrell would issue a certificate for the vehicles and update the warrant of fitness details on the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) website, using his authorisation code.

He entered the vehicles on the NZTA website as having passed their tests.

Burrell told police it was “an industry-wide problem,” says Pascoe.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt told Stuff that Warrant of fitness fraud arose “from time to time” but the number of substantiated cases was small.

“There is no indication that it is an industry-wide problem or that the incidence, albeit low, has increased or altered,” says Knackstedt.

He says NZTA acted on information it received, including theft of a warrant booklet from an approved firm.

“Industries and businesses involved in public safety have a vested interest in ensuring that everyone is playing by the rules, which helps ensure instances like this are an anomaly,” he says.

The Automobile Association believed NZTA had proper checks and balances to weed out rogue operators.

One AA spokesman told Stuff that Burrell and his customers endangered the public with their actions.

“The motorists who have participated in this fraud and are likely driving cars that aren’t roadworthy. They’re putting themselves and other road users at risk with what are potentially unsafe vehicles,” he says.

“Warrant of fitness inspections are there to ensure that all vehicles on our roads meet minimum road safety standards. If an unsafe vehicle is driving around, the drivers are putting lives at risk,” says the AA spokesman.

“The cars involved in this case should be taken off the road until they’ve passed a legitimate warrant of fitness inspection,” he says.

Judge Brian Callaghan remanded Burrell on bail to April 22 for a probation report and sentence, “given the significance of this offending.”

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