Wānaka lockdown breacher also facing drink-driving and traffic infringements


William Willis at the Norwood Cup in 2017.

Christine Cornege/NZ Horse & Pony/Cornege Photography

William Willis at the Norwood Cup in 2017.

The man who allegedly breached lockdown rules to fly from Auckland to Wānaka is also facing two traffic infringement notices, one of which includes low-level drink-driving.

William John Lawrence Willis, 35, and Hannah Rawnsley, 26, a lawyer, are set to be charged with breaching the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act over police claims they crossed the Auckland border unlawfully, using essential worker exemptions, on September 9.

They then drove to Hamilton Airport, where they took a commercial flight to Queenstown, via Wellington, rented a vehicle and drove to a holiday home in Wānaka.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, the pair said their decision to travel to Wānaka last week was “completely irresponsible and inexcusable”.

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But it is not the only enforcement action Willis is facing, according to court documents seen by Stuff.

He was driving in Bombay in December when he was stopped by police and allegedly found driving with alcohol in his blood system. The reading was allegedly over the 50 milligrams limit, but not exceeding 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, which can result in disqualification or prison.

Willis faces a fine and demerit points and is due back in court in October.

He was also caught driving in Drury in January when he was allegedly spotted using his cellphone.

William Willis and Hannah Rawnsley are set to be charged with breaching the Auckland lockdown by flying to Wānaka.

Iain McGregor/Stuff

William Willis and Hannah Rawnsley are set to be charged with breaching the Auckland lockdown by flying to Wānaka.

He was issued a ticket but, according to court documents, he has chosen to dispute the fine.

Willis was set to face a hearing for the cellphone infringement before a Justice of the Peace next week, but Covid-19 alert level 4 restrictions mean that is unlikely to take place.

If found proven, Willis faces a maximum penalty of a $1000 fine.

Stuff approached Willis for comment through his lawyer, Rachael Reed QC, who said no statement would be made by her client.

Willis’ partner Rawnsley, who is a lawyer, could also face further disciplinary action.

Law Society president Tiana Epati said lawyers were provided with an official letter to allow travel to priority court hearings.

She said that was the only travel permit provided to lawyers, who are not essential workers.

“We don’t really know that there’s anything else she would have been able to point to. And if that’s the case, that she has used her lawyer status to get across the border, then I join probably all of the legal profession in being extremely disappointed.”



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