Controversial tourists speak out as police investigate their actions

Author
Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 15 January 2019, 3:41PM
The infamous travellers talk to Police and Immigration officers in Hamilton. (Photo / Belinda Feek)
The infamous travellers talk to Police and Immigration officers in Hamilton. (Photo / Belinda Feek)

The tourists at the centre of a social media storm after leaving rubbish on a Takapuna beach and abusing a local woman say one of their children was assaulted.

And one of the men who feature in the video, who said his name was John Johnson, said they were all from England and not Ireland as most people had thought.

Johnson, his brother, David, as well as their partners and children, including a young baby, and mother Eileen Doran, of Liverpool, and father, say the social media furore which kicked off due to rubbish left on the beach has cut short their holiday and they'll return home a week earlier than planned.

The infamous travellers talk to Police and Immigration officers in Hamilton. Photo / Belinda Feek

The infamous travellers talk to Police and Immigration officers in Hamilton. Photo / Belinda Feek

Just hours after speaking to the Herald, the family were spoken to by police and immigration officers.

Police and immigration were called to Burger King Te Rapa, Hamilton, by staff after alleged unruly behaviour by the family of travellers.

A staff member said they were at the store this morning causing a nuisance, complaining about and asking for free food. The children were also banging coins on the machines, as other guests looked on.

The group remained at the premises for quite some time before leaving and returning this afternoon.

Staff decided to call police after they were walking through the drive-thru.

Immigration staff are also at the scene, along with several detectives, speaking with the family.

Waikato Police said they were speaking with a number of members of the group in relation to incidents in Auckland.

Earlier today, family members spoke to the Herald and said the issue at the beach had been blown out of proportion. They also denied fleeing two Auckland restaurants without paying for their meals.

Instead, John Johnson said they come from a good family and his grandfather was the "10th richest man in England".

The drama kicked off on Sunday after several family members were filmed leaving large amounts of their rubbish on Takapuna beach. The group are videoed by local Krista Curnow as they leave when Johnson's eight-year-old nephew is seen abusing the woman and threatening to "knock your brains out".

Curnow said she asked the group to pick up their rubbish: "About four or five ladies stood around me ... in a half circle. They were saying they were going to hit me ... and I started walking backwards to get out of it.

"Even grandma and the child got involved, saying they wanted to punch my head in."

The incident had riled so many Kiwis a petition has even been launched to get the family kicked out of the country.

The Herald tracked the family down at a Hamilton hotel this morning.

While videoing four family members leaving a carpark, David Johnson asked the reporter why they were videoing and attempted to grab her phone. He was unsuccessful and covered his head as videoing ensued and they sped off in their car.

Back at the hotel, John Johnson and his partner left shortly afterwards. Johnson also took exception to being videoed, ripping the phone out of the reporter's hand and deleting all footage before handing it back.

English tourist, who gave the name, John Johnson, leaves an Auckland hotel on Monday afternoon bound for Hamilton. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

English tourist, who gave the name, John Johnson, leaves an Auckland hotel on Monday afternoon bound for Hamilton. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

However, he, along with his brother, mother and father, eventually agreed to speak about their ordeal.

Johnson said it all kicked off when his eight-year-old nephew was "slapped" by another boy at the water's edge while at the beach. After that, they claim they were abused, with people calling them "Irish scum" and had items thrown at them. Feeling intimidated, they left, inadvertently leaving their rubbish behind.

He said they didn't intend for that to happen but they wanted to escape the group of people they felt was "circling them".

David Johnson said his son was annoyed after being hit down by the beach and then taunted. Seeing the camera sent him over the edge, he said.

"All he did was speak up for himself and everybody's got every right to speak for themselves. It was absolutely ridiculous what happened [the assault] ... we are a respectable family."

He said they were just at the beach for a "family day out".

The tourists caused controversy at Takapuna Beach.

The tourists caused controversy at Takapuna Beach.

"We were sitting there, and a little boy smacked one of the kids. They come over and start calling us loads of names 'go back to Ireland.' We're sitting there having a meal and we're relaxing.

"One of the guys got very violent to one of my friends and everybody got around us and we had no choice but to get up and leave and there was a mess there, because we couldn't clean it up because we were badly intimidated by a group of people."

Some of the group left but some family were still walking to the car when they were caught in the video. 

He said the woman who took the video can be heard saying "who is this f***** little boy, swearing at him".

"So there's two sides to the story. We did leave a mess and they're saying we're gypsies, we're not gypsies. We're English citizens and we were attacked on that beach, we left and they videoed the mess and then put it on Facebook, you see what I mean?"

He also said the family had never been to Australia after claims the family were the same Irish family who scammed people out of money across the ditch last year.

"People are trying to say we were in Australia, we were never in Australia. We come here for a holiday. We are not gypsies, we are not Irish."

One of the tourists accused of dumping rubbish on Takapuna Beach leave their accommodation on Wyndham Street. Photo / Jason Oxenham

One of the tourists accused of dumping rubbish on Takapuna Beach leave their accommodation on Wyndham Street. Photo / Jason Oxenham

He said the rubbish that they left behind was "not the end of the world".

"At the end of the day it's not the end of the world, there was a bit of a mess left there but the reason why it was left there was because everyone was intimidated and forced to leave the beach."

They were due to stay in New Zealand for two weeks but would now be going home on Friday, a week early.

"It ain't very nice, we're human beings like everybody else and it ain't very nice what happened."

He stood up for his son's outburst.

"All he did was spoke up for himself and that's it and I think, God, give everybody the right to speak for themselves. At the end of the day it was just absolutely ridiculous what happened.

"In regards to the mess, we are not like that. We are a respectable family. If we go on holiday we treat every country like our own country, no difference. I was brought up in London. I wasn't brought up this way."

His younger brother John, who features in the video slapping his nephew over the head after making the threat, said he no longer felt comfortable in New Zealand.

"I'm no one famous. I'm just a fat kid from England on holiday. So when people are running up with their cameras and photo shoots and trying to ask questions, it very frightened me ... I felt very intimidated. What I'm baffled about is a bit of rubbish which realistically should never have happened.

"We have to go home early because the New Zealand people are treating my family like shit. We paid a lot of money to come here for a family holiday."

He said one of their highlights of the trip was supposed to be a visit to Matamata to visit Hobbiton.

"We're here to see the Hobbits ... I've been looking at the Hobbits my whole life, since I'm born, that was originally what our plans was but it's all been f***** up now ... I feel very unwelcome here. I feel like an Alien invader, I don't feel happy and I'm far from Irish."

His father said he was "devastated by what's going on".

"I will never come to New Zealand again. I was frightened for my kids at the beach. There were people throwing things at us."

 

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