Canadian Justice System Went Where NZ’s Fears To Tread – updated

hang glider

William Jonathan Orders, sentenced in Canada to 5 months in prison for criminal negligence

Anyone reading the news today can’t help but notice that the Canadian and New Zealand justice systems are, quite literally, worlds apart.

Kiwi hang glider William Jonathan Orders ‘Jon Orders‘ age 51, caused the death of a young female student, Lenami Godinez-Avila (below), through criminal negligence after failing to hook her in properly to a tandem hang-glider before taking off.

The couple were hang-gliding in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley in April 2012 when not only did Jon Orders fail to secure her properly, but he also didn’t carry out a safety check, despite having

“18 years’ experience and recently completing a re-certification course.

After he landed, he swallowed a memory card containing a video of the incident, for which he was also charged with obstruction of justice, however this charge was stayed by the Crown…” source Stuff.co.nz

There was no mention of whether or not a drug test was carried out on him after the incident, or whether he was under the influence of any substance.

Orders still has a strong Kiwi accent.

He’s been sentenced to 5 months in jail, and 3 years probation during time which he’s not permitted to hang-glide.

Contrast that with NZ’s justice system and the high number of adventure tourism deaths caused through operator negligence over the years (some of whom were found with cannabis in their bodies). None of them resulted in the imprisonment of the person responsible, not a single one.  Every time the NZ courts backed off issuing punitive sentences that would act as a deterrent to other errant operators.

Update 13 Feb 2014

There is speculation that Jon Orders could be deported from Canada back to his home New Zealand, where he had once been a hang gliding pilot before leaving for Canada.

He is known to have expired NZ, Australian and British passports but was applying for Canadian citizenship (using which valid passport?) at the time of the offence. What we’re seeing here is a profile of a man living at the edge of the law, who swallows evidence and runs from court houses.

The Canadian hang-gliding case has remarkable similarities to the death of another student, Catherine Peters, on the Ballance Bridge swing in New Zealand.

catherine peters

Catherine Peters

The company director of the bridge swing operation, Alistair McWhannell, was found guilty of manslaughter after admitting to “gross negligence” for not securing the rope that Catherine was swinging on. (Read Alistair McWhannell Guilty Of Manslaughter In Swing Bridge Death June 2010).

Despite the manslaughter conviction, McWhannell escaped a prison sentence for causing a “totally avoidable death”. He was instead sentenced to 400 hours community work and made to pay an insulting $10,000 NZ in reparations.

Dear reader, which country do you think takes adventure tourism safety more seriously, and which would you prefer to vacation in?

You may also be interested in

Harness failure leaves woman dangling at Nevis Bungy Swing (May 2012)

Tarla Carpenter hanging by her armpits on the bungy swing

An Australian tourist, Tarla Carpenter was left hanging above a chasm after a serious harness failure left her dangling by her armpits at the Nevis Bungy Swing in the Nevis Canyon, Queenstown, NZ.

The swing is 160 metres above the canyon floor and riders move at speeds of up to 150kph in a 300 metre arc.

The tourist attraction, run by AJ Hackett, offers thrill seekers a death defying leap over a mind numbing drop. Tarla Carpenter and her boyfriend Matthew Pararta were on vacation in New Zealand when the couple opted for a ride on the bungee swing.

A restraining strap with an empty carabiner, could be seen dangling behind her. It is hard to tell what exactly happened but in the above picture it looks like the webbing seat she was sat on either detached, or slid up her back… more

Emily Jordan’s Father Writes To John Key: Safety Regulations Are “Third World” (Sept 2009)

Emily Jordan and her boyfriend Jonathan Armour

“The father of a young Midland tourist who died during a river adventure trip in New Zealand has pleaded with the country’s prime minister to make extreme sports safer.

Law graduate Emily Jordan, from Worcestershire, drowned on a “river boarding” excursion after guides failed to take safety measures.

The operators were fined just £27,600 after admitting that they had failed to secure the safety of their customers.

Emily’s father, Chris Jordan, has now written to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to ask him to prevent future deaths by tightening up regulations, which he says are no better than the Third World.

Mr Jordan also described the fine given to the owners of Mad Dog River Boarding as an “insult”… more

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3 thoughts on “Canadian Justice System Went Where NZ’s Fears To Tread – updated

  1. I am so glad that you keep on highlighting this appalling situation. I frequently point acquaintances to this site should they ever mention adventure sports in NZ (or, heaven forbid, they think of emigrating.)

    The lack of a right to sure for personal injury and consequent lack of the need for insurance is a diabolical situation.

    It reminds me of my days working in a trade in NZ and the hair raising practices with scaffolding, ladders and swinging stages

    • The action of a guilty man? Incredibly he asked for clemency because of the PTSD he suffered after the event, no doubt mindful that back home in New Zealand the perps get more attention than their victims.

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