$45,000 fine handed down to Columbus Academy
3 July 2003
$45,000 fine handed down to Columbus Academy for RMA and Building Act breaches
The now defunct Columbus Academy (NZ) Ltd of West Harbour and one of its directors, Katsuo Kanamori, was today fined $45,000 in the Auckland District Court on charges related to overcrowding, insanitary living conditions and fire danger.
The fine could have been higher, but was substantially reduced due to Mr Kanamori’s early guilty pleas.
The prosecution was brought by the Waitakere City Council for breaches of both the RMA and the Building Act 1991 in relation to insufficient sanitary facilities, overcrowding and lack of any fire prevention or safety measures.
Judge McElrea accepted that a fire at the academy could have had catastrophic consequences and said the potential for harm was “very great”. He considered the significant fine was in keeping with the serious safety risk posed to those living at the academy.
The Columbus Academy came to national prominence in January when a youth living at the Academy was allegedly beaten to death. Police have laid charges against other youths living at the Academy.
After this incident, the Council (which had several times previously investigated the Academy in relation to District Plan compliance) and the NZ Fire Service launched a new investigation into claims of overcrowding and fire risk. It was this investigation that led to the prosecution against Mr Kanamori and the Columbus Academy.
The Academy is now closed.