Police Pursuit Offences in NSW

Sahar Adatia.

It was the high-speed police pursuit through Newcastle labelled “horrendous” that started with a 33-year-old man driving in an erratic manner to chase down a family and ended with a turbulent, collision-filled race against police vehicles.

According to NSW Police, in the late hours of Wednesday 9th February 2022, a domestic incident at a home in Mount Hutton unfolded which necessitated the collection of two children from the residence.

At about 10:30pm, the two children, aged 9 and 11, in the company of a 35-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man, left in their vehicle from the address when a 33-year old man, who is known to them, allegedly got into a Toyota Prado and began pursuing them, allegedly driving dangerously.

The family was followed to Waratah Police Station, where they arrived just before 11pm and reported the incident.

At this point, the driver of the SUV allegedly continued to drive in an erratic manner, hustling outside the police station and in nearby streets.

Officers from Newcastle City Police District and Traffic and Highway Patrol rushed to the scene and attempted to stop the vehicle; nevertheless, the driver allegedly disregarded the police direction and drove off at great speed along Georgetown Road, Waratah.

Immediately, several pursuits were initiated through nearby streets, however all had to eventually be terminated due to the man’s dangerous manner of driving.

The man then continued speeding through various Newcastle suburbs in an episode that lasted 50 minutes.

During this time, the man collided with multiple parked vehicles, including one at the intersection of Centenary Road and Merewether Street.

He also rammed into a power pole on King Street.

Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey labelled the incident as “horrendous”.

“Over the next 50 minutes that man drove around the Newcastle area in a horrendous fashion, multiple collisions, multiple serious motor vehicle offences,” he said.

“There was a collision with at least one or two innocent vehicles, where we would say he rammed those, no injuries there, amazing.”

He added the man “was driving around on the rims of his wheels” and so reckless was his driving that the “tyres were off” with “multiple damaged panels hanging off”.

How the Pursuit with the Dangerous Driver Came to A Halt…

Ultimately, the driver’s demise can when the car mounted a concrete median and got stuck, at which point he attempted to overtake a tram on Scott Street.

According to Detective Superintendent Humphrey, at this point, police had to smash the window to get the man out of the car.

Nevertheless, while officers tried to arrest the man, he allegedly resisted with violence, leaving police to use OC spray.

It is understood one of the police officers was also injured during the arrest.

The driver was taken to Mater Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

He was charged with six offences, including police pursuit, drive recklessly/furiously or speed/manner dangerous, stalk/intimidate intend fear physical etc harm (DV), and hinder police in execution of duty.

The man remained under police guard in hospital and given a notice to appear at Newcastle Local Court via a bedside hearing, with Detective Superintendent Humphrey saying they would be “strenuously opposing bail” due to the horrendous nature of the man’s behaviour.

Police Pursuit Offences in NSW

In NSW, police pursuit – otherwise known as “Skye’s Law” – is a criminal offence.

Specifically, section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) disallows a driver of a vehicle to drive the vehicle in situations in which they ought to reasonably have known or had reasonable grounds to suspect that a police officer was in pursuit of them, requiring the vehicle to stop, yet still carried on driving and failed to stop while the driver was driving recklessly or at a speed or manner dangerous to others.

Where the offence is a first offence, the maximum penalty is three years in jail, along with a minimum licence disqualification period of one year.

Where the offence is a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty increases to five years in jail, along with a licence disqualification period of five years – although it is at the court’s discretion to reduce this to a minimum of a two-year disqualification.

In NSW, Skye’s Law came into effect in 2010 after a horrific incident which encompassed two thieves involved in a police chase, who eventually crashed into another vehicle, killing a 19-month-old baby named Skye Sassine.

Skye’s Law is intended to deter people from engaging in police chases.Indeed, driving in a chase scenario, let alone at dangerous speeds, often lead to accidents, injuries and even fatalities, with greater impacts left upon the broader community, in turn.

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