New Zealand TV star admits role in fake pilot stunt
Ben Boyce, left, leaving Manukau District Court. Photo: Grahame Cox/Fairfax NZ
New Zealand TV star and comedian Ben Boyce has admitted his part in a botched fake pilot stunt which earned him the wrath of the aviation industry and the country's Prime Minister John Key.
The skit for the TV3 series WannaBen allegedly involved someone dressing in a pilot's uniform to get past security at Auckland Airport last September, during the Rugby World Cup and close to the September 11th terrorist attacks anniversary.
Boyce, The Rock host Bryce Casey, TV producer Andrew Robinson, Daniel Watkins, Craig O'Reilly and Gregory Clarke appeared at Manukau District Court today charged with providing false information in an attempt to gain access to a secure area.
A man impersonates a pilot at Auckland International Airport.
At the sentence indication hearing all the accused changed their plea to guilty.
Clarke, O'Reilly and Watkins were discharged without conviction for their part in the failed comedy skit and fined $NZ250 each.
Judge Gus Andree Wiltens said the trio played a smaller role in the stunt. They hadn't planned it, nor could they say no to those who had.
Judge Wiltens took into account their low level of offending and the effect a conviction would have on their careers.
What happened to the other three accused cannot yet be reported.
The case had originally been set down for a defended hearing but last week a decision was made to hold a sentence indication hearing.
The stunt was widely condemned by the aviation industry which said the men could find it difficult to travel internationally if convicted.
At one of their initial appearances one of the men's lawyers sought diversion, but police said that had been denied.
Prime Minister John Key said the stunt was "irresponsible from a bunch of clowns that should know better".
In a statement issued in September by TV3's owner MediaWorks, Boyce said he was "very sorry for all the trouble [the stunt] has caused".
"This was an attempt at humour which we fully accept was misplaced."
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