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An unlicensed driver has been arrested after leading police on a pursuit, whilst three children aged five and under were in his car.

The chase occurred in Sydney’s north-west when officers detected a Holden Commodore allegedly speeding on the M1 motorway.

A pursuit was initiated by officers after the 35-year-old male driver from Tregear failed to stop when directed.

The car allegedly reached speeds of 200km/h during the pursuit in a signposted 110km/h zone.

The car stopped after hitting a concrete barrier.

After checks, it was revealed that the driver was disqualified from driving.

He held an expired learner permit.

A 28-year-old woman, two boys aged seven months and five years, and a three-year-old girl, were passengers in the car.

As a precaution, the children were taken to Westmead Children’s Hospital to be checked.

The three-year-old girl was subsequently treated for bruising.

The driver was arrested and taken to Hornsby Police Station where he was charged with police pursuit – not stop – drive dangerously, drive motor vehicle while disqualified, drive with low-range PCA (prescribed concentration of alcohol), and speeding.

He was refused bail by police, to face Hornsby Local Court.

A child-at-risk notification was also made by police.

Pursuant to section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), engaging in a police pursuit is an offence.

A first-time offender will face a maximum penalty of 3-years imprisonment, whereas in the case of an offence on a second or subsequent occasion, a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 5 years is applicable.

Furthermore, a first-time offender will receive a maximum license disqualification of 3 years, or a minimum disqualification period of 12-months if the court sees fit.

For a second or subsequent offence the applicable maximum license disqualification period is 5 years, with a minimum disqualification period of 2 years if the court sees fit.

An accused person will be guilty of this offence if the prosecution is able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • The driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or had reasonable grounds to suspect that a police officer was in pursuit of the vehicle requiring the vehicle to stop,
  • The driver failed to stop their vehicle, and
  • The driver then drove in a reckless manner or at a speed or manner dangerous to others.

Motor vehicle pursuits are an inherently dangerous offence, and present challenging decisions for officers involved.

Between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2011, there were 185 fatal pursuit-related vehicle crashes resulting in 218 deaths.

This equates to an average of 15 crashes and 18 deaths per year.

Of these deaths, 50% were of alleged offenders who were driving the vehicle being pursued, while 12% were of alleged offenders who were passengers in the vehicle being pursued.

Those classified as ‘innocent persons’ comprised 38% of deaths.

Of this percentage 17% were passengers in the vehicle, 21% were bystanders or road users, and 13% were police officers involved.

The most prevalent type of offence committed prior to a fatal police pursuit, are those related to traffic such as speeding, dangerous driving, or registration and roadworthy offences.

Notably, since 2004 there has been a 20% decline in the number of pursuits in New South Wales.

Published on 14/06/2022

AUTHOR Poppy Morandin

Poppy Morandin is the managing law clerk and an integral part of the team of criminal lawyers at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia . She's also a part of CDLA's content article production team. Poppy is passionate about law reform and criminal justice.

View all posts by Poppy Morandin