1493160055507 - Gisborne bus crash driver appears in court facing 30 charges

Gisborne bus crash driver appears in court facing 30 charges

The bus driver charged with causing the deaths of three people, and the injury of more than 20 others, on Christmas Eve last year can be named as Talakai Aholelei. 

The 65-year-old appeared in the Manukau District Court on Wednesday, in front of Judge Sanjay Patel, following the crash on State Highway 2, about 30km south of Gisborne last year.

His lawyer Nalesoni Tupou asked Judge Patel to give his client time before his next appearance as a number of reports were being penned. 

Aholelei was remanded without plea for four weeks. He was also granted bail with conditions. 

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Judge Patel told Aholelei he would need to enter a plea by his next court appearance. 

Fifty-three people were on the bus when it crashed about 10.30pm on December 24. 

Sione Taumalolo, 11, and Talita Moimoi Fifita, 33, died at the scene. 

Leotisia Malakai, 55, died in hospital eight days later.

Those on board the bus were teachers and students from the Tongan Mailefihi Siulikutapu College brass band team on their way to Gisborne’s Tongan Methodist Parish to perform at a Christmas Day fundraising event.

A large contingent of the Tongan community were at court on Wednesday. 

Following the crash, there was an outpouring of support with a Givealittle page raising more than $42,000 and a tribute concert put on by band members raising about $28,000.

Aholelei’s next appearance will be on May 25.

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