Penalties, Defences and Law on Police Pursuit in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

It is reported that in the early hours of 21 January 2020, residents in Mackay, Queensland, woke to the sounds and scenes similar to a movie after a driver crashed his car into a truck and teared into a fence in the aftermath of a police pursuit.

At about 5:30am, a maroon Subaru allegedly butted a police vehicle in the suburb of Andergrove, leading to a number of police pursuing the suspect.

Police say the man sped away when officers approached him in his vehicle.

While tyre spikes were deployed by officers, it wasn’t enough to stop the suspect, who continued driving at high speeds into the city.

The car reportedly veered to the wrong side of the road at several points, reaching speeds of more than 100 kilometres per hour.

Minutes later, however, the car collided with a truck at the intersection of Milton and Shakespeare Street, at which point the vehicle flipped.

Narrowly, the man missed a power pole.

 

Scenes of Chaos; Residents Feared the Worst

When residents of the suburb heard the sounds of the smash and witnessed the vast cloud of dust and smoke upsurging from the scene, they feared the worst, saying it was like something out of a movie.

Speaking to ABC News, resident Melissa Luke-de-Git said it was lucky that no one was hurt.

“There was a lady that reversed her car out just before, it just missed her. It’s just crazy,” Ms Luke-de-Git said.

“And to see that car, it would have rolled several times and right into that fence. Kids live in those units. What if there was a kid in the front yard?

Ms Luke-de-Git also witnessed the truck driver coming out of his vehicle following the crash.

“That poor truck driver over there is shaking because he is so scared. He just saw that car coming towards him sideways.”

Meanwhile, another local of the neighbourhood who was strolling back from a corner shop close by said the scene was one of chaos.

“Oh, like a scene out of a movie actually, looks a little bit like Movie World. We’ve got a car on its side and about five or six police cars around it at one stage.”

 

Man Arrested Following Dramatic Police Pursuit

The suspect was pulled from the wreckage and taken to the police station. He was taken to hospital where he was treated for injuries suffered during the police chase.

It is reported the 27-year-old man is being questioned over the pursuit.

A police officer was found to be injured in the incident.

For more information on police pursuit laws in NSW, contact us 24/7 to arrange a consultation with our experienced criminal lawyers located in Sydney.

Why Police Pursuit is Known as “Skye’s Law”

In NSW, the offence of police pursuit is referred to as “Skye’s Law”.

Implemented in 2010 after two thieves involved in a police chase crashed into a car in which 19-month-old Sky Sassine was travelling and killed in, the law was designed to make known that there will be harsher penalties for those who lead police on dangerous chases.

Skye’s Law aims to dissuade people from trying to dodge police, which can lead to perilous pursuits involving dangerous speeds and cause accidents, injuries and even fatalities to those involved and the community at large.

Penalties, Defences and Law on Police Pursuit in NSW

In NSW, it is an offence to lead police on a pursuit.

This is reflected in section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which prescribes a maximum penalty of three-years jail for a first-time offender, and five-years in jail for a second or subsequent offender in NSW.

A first-time offender will also face a 3-year automatic driver licence disqualification period, with the option for the court to reduce this to a minimum of 1-year disqualification.

A second or subsequent offender will also face a 5-years automatic driver licence disqualification period, with the option for the court to reduce this to a minimum of 2-years disqualification.

Can you avoid a licence disqualification and criminal conviction after pleading guilty to a charge of police pursuit or sky’s law? The simple answer is yes, if the court can be convinced enough to sentence you with a non-conviction penalty, such as section 10 dismissal or Conditional Release Order non-conviction.

To be guilty of police pursuit in NSW, the police must prove:

  1. You ought reasonably to have known or you had reasonable grounds to suspect that a police officer was in pursuit of you, requiring you to stop your vehicle; and
  2. You fail to stop; and
  3. You were driving recklessly or at a speed or manner dangerous to others.

Click here for an outline on the defences to police pursuit charges.

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