Taxi CEO welcomes complaints after driver singled out by TradeMe founder for smoking in car

Wellington Combined Taxis is investigating after high-profile entrepreneur Sam Morgan alleged he saw a driver smoking in their vehicle.

Mr Morgan tweeted on Saturday night he had seen a driver smoking in their car just before he entered the taxi.

"Dear Wellington Combined Taxis. Cab 272 is a driver who smokes in their car. I'd like to provide a 2 star rating. Thanks," he tweeted.

Wellington Combined Taxis chief executive Erik Westergaard said the company was investigating.

"It's a clear breach of our rules," he said.

Brodie Kane talks the rights of taxi drivers, uber drivers and passengers.
Source: Breakfast

Mr Westergaard said as a non-smoker himself he had "zero tolerance for smokers".

"We take this matter very seriously."

The driver could face a penalty of removal from the company's dispatch, leaving them unable to work.

But Mr Westergaard said it was more likely they would receive fines and demerit points.

If a driver receives too many demerit points they are asked to leave the company.

Mr Westergaard said it was not unreasonable for Mr Morgan to have publicly tweeted his complaint to his more than 26,000 followers.

"He obviously felt aggrieved about what happened and he reacted in a manner that he thought was appropriate."

He said customers could contact Combined Taxis through a number of channels if they had complaints, including ringing him directly.

"By all means, contact me directly and ask to speak to the chief executive."

It is illegal for either passengers or drivers to smoke in taxis in New Zealand.

By ONE News Reporter Anna Harcourt


Watch adorable little girl reveal how she saved malnourished Wellington kittens

GRAPHIC WARNING: Content and images in this story may disturb.

Wellington SPCA are appealing for the public's help to identify the person who dumped two tiny ginger kittens in a Johnsonville playground.

The kittens were found sick and abandoned in the Johnsonville playground by a four-year-old and her father on Saturday afternoon.

Sitting on the lap of her dad Tim Hope, four-year-old Charlotte today described to ONE News what it was like rescuing the kittens.

"We put them in the box...then we took them back home...then we took them to the hospital," Charlotte says.

Still be dependent on their mother, the kittens are now in the care of Wellington SPCA.

Wellington SPCA Senior Animal Welfare Inspector, Ben Lakomy, said it was lucky the kittens were found by the caring pair.

"The kittens are very sick and they wouldn't have had a chance on their own," Mr Lakomy said.

"We are appalled to see the state that these young kittens are in and our team are doing all they can to help them."

Mr Lakomy said the female kitten has severely infected eyes and is at risk of losing them.

These mistreated kittens were found abandoned in a cardboard box. Source: Wellington SPCA

The male kitten has bad conjunctivitis and is also very unwell.

Both kittens have received antibiotics and pain relief and they are now warm, comfortable and fed in Wellington SPCA's Veterinary Hospital.

"We need the public's help to locate whoever was responsible for these kittens so we can get their side of the story and then take any appropriate action from there."

The kittens were found in the Gilbert Young Play Area on Fraser Avenue, Johnsonville, between 2pm and 3pm on Saturday.

They were near a Totally Girlie Easy DIY Mini Knit branded box containing blood.

The pair of abandoned kittens in Johnsonville.
The pair of abandoned kittens in Johnsonville. Source: SPCA

"The box appeared to have been taped closed at some point with tape still evident on the open box," Mr Lakomy said.

"Given that the kittens were found close to the box, and during the day on a busy Saturday, I am hopeful that they were rescued quite soon after being abandoned."

No one suspicious was seen in the area at the time the kittens were found.

It is an offence against the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to desert an animal, and anyone convicted for doing so could face up to 12 months in jail and/or a $50,000 fine.

The owner or person in charge could also face additional charges for failing to get the health issues treated.

Four-year-old Charlotte and her father Tim Hope found the mistreated younglings in a Johnsonville playground. Source: 1 NEWS


Justice for Blessie: 'Public safety a distant and detached consideration'

Legislators have "immunised" themselves from responsibility and set public safety as a "distant and detached consideration" when rehabilitating violent offenders, says Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar.

Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust Source: Breakfast

Mr McVicar, whose trust supports the victims of serious crime, backed the family of murdered woman Blessie Gotingco in their bid to sue the Department of Corrections.

Antonio Gotingco, the husband of the Auckland mother-of-three, penned an open letter to the "good people of New Zealand" last Friday asking for financial help for a civil case against Corrections.

"We are going to undertake our own review of the mismanagement/non-monitoring of 'evil' which enabled him to take our Blessie," he wrote.

To date more than $126,000 has been raised for the "Justice for Blessie" campaign, after a Government inquiry found the the 56-year-old's murder at the hands of Tony Robertson in May 2014 was no fault of Corrections.

However, Mr McVicar told ONE News departments or individuals are rarely the root cause.

Blessie Gotingco's family is preparing to sue Corrections for the "mismanagement of evil" which it says led to her murder. Source: Breakfast

"The problem is legislation is overly focused on rehabilitation as opposed to public safety.

"This Government and preceding governments have gradually implemented legislation that has, as its primary focus, rehabilitating the offender and getting them out of prison at the earliest possible opportunity - public safety has become very much a distant and detached consideration."

He understood Mr Gotingco and his family's frustration and anger and supported their decision to pursue legal action, adding it was now their only option.

"Do we believe it is the best way to go? The ultimate blame lies with the legislators but they have immunised themselves from being held to account so legal action against Corrections is the only route open to the family.

"We agree that Blessie's death could have been prevented if Robertson had been monitored more closely, but the departments concerned actually did all they could under the legislation they are forced to comply with."

It was revealed after the trial that Robertson was on parole after serving eight years for sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl.

The SST said in response to the inquiry investigating Corrections' actions prior to the murder that, legislation has "effectively tied the inquiry's hands" while the investigation was also given a "very tight time frame" to gather evidence.

He said the inquiry exonerated the legislators and minimised "exposure of the root cause of the real problem ... the ideology that has set Robertson and many others up to kill".

"As I said at the time the comments from Corrections [were] really a cry for help ... they know they cannot prevent such tragedies given the severe restraints they are required to comply with."

Findings from the inquiry, released last week, made 27 recommendations for improving management of high-risk offenders.

Robertson is currently serving a life sentence for murder and rape.