Penguin warden, 72, puts her body on the line
3 Jan 11 @ 03:52pm by Bryn Kay
THE grandson of the owner of Mona Vale-built Wild Oats XI - winner of last week’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race - has been charged with assaulting an elderly penguin warden on Saturday night.
Police charged 28-year-old James Oatley, grandson of multimillionaire wine entrepreneur Bob Oatley, with common assault after he allegedly pushed Johnyth Burton, 72, to the ground and splashed water on her as she was trying to protect a penguin from an off-leash dog.
Saturday’s incident took place at Manly Cove about 10pm when penguin warden Angelika Treichler joined Mrs Burton in rushing to the penguin’s aid.
It is understood a boat carrying Mr Oatley and a group of friends came to shore next to Manly Wharf when the dog jumped free from the boat and allegedly began chasing the penguin.
“I was trying to put myself between the penguin and the dog. The man who owned the dog, and I think, the boat, started abusing us and said his dog was just ‘playing’,” Ms Treichler said yesterday.
Ms Treichler and Mrs Burton then went to take photos of the boat before asking the group to put a leash on the dog.
It’s alleged Mr Oatley then pushed Mrs Burton into the water and began splashing water on her to the shock of more than 100 horrified onlookers.
“I turned around to see Johnyth lying flat on her back,” Ms Treichler said.
“She is not injured but is very shaken and has a bad headache. She is one of 30 penguin wardens I work with here.
“I don’t know if she can keep doing it after this ... she will be having a very long break.”
Mr Oatley has been charged with common assault and is due to appear in Manly Local Court on January 27.