Custody remand after chase driver admits all charges

Police car-Sept2013-03A 22-year-old has admitted he was taking a stolen car to the Waimakariri River for a joyride when he became involved in two related police pursuits in Christchurch’s northern suburbs.

Ryan Victor DeSouza is the second driver to admit taking part in the strange incident on August 24.

When he pleaded guilty to eight charges in the Christchurch District Court today, Judge Gary MacAskill remanded him in custody for sentencing on November 9.

The other driver, Brandon Alan Niven, 20, has already pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully taking a car, unlawfully interfering with another car, failing to stop for the police, reckless driving on Hills Road, and several charges of unlicensed driving. He is on bail for sentencing on November 6.

Police had noticed that the car DeSouza was driving was following along as they pursued the car driven by Niven.

DeSouza applied for bail after pleading guilty to all charges today, but Judge MacAskill said bail had already been refused and there was no “material change of circumstances” that would allow the issue to be reconsidered. DeSouza may apply for release on electronically monitored bail in the meantime.

DeSouza admitted two charges of unlawfully taking cars, two of driving while forbidden, dangerous driving, two charges of failing to stop for the police, and a breach of bail.

A restorative justice conference may be held in the meantime. The judge ordered a report on his suitability for home detention.

Police prosecutor David Rusbatch told the court a Nissan Skyline car was taken from The Palms shopping mall on July 13, and was abandoned in Heywards Road, Waimakariri District, after its gear box was damaged. The stereo, radar detector, and other items worth a total of $1400 were removed before it was abandoned.

DeSouza and two associates drove to the car the next day. DeSouza smashed a side window to get inside and tried to start it using an incorrect key. The three then took off the number plates.

They then cut the seatbelts out and made a makeshift tow-rope out of them. They towed the car but the rope parted.

A witness had seen the whole thing and was reporting to the police who stopped the car on the Northern Motorway.

DeSouza, a forbidden driver, was steering it during the towing. He said a friend he did not want to name had sent him to get the car and he did not know it was stolen.

On August 17, a Toyota was stolen from the Eastgate mall car park. About 11pm on August 24, DeSouza was driving it on Briggs Road and sped off when the police tried to stop it. They had been pursuing the car driven by Niven at the time.

DeSouza drove through a residential area at about 80km an hour.

He drove through two red lights, changed lanes without indicating on Queen Elizabeth II Drive, and did a sharp left at a round-about on Innes Road.

When he tried to turn into Briggs Road at the last second, the brakes locked and the car slid over a traffic island and crashed into a stationary car. He ran off from the crash without checking whether the other driver was injured – she wasn’t – and police said DeSouza was later found by members of the public, hiding in a ditch.

When interviewed, he admitted all the facts and said he was taking the vehicle for a joy-ride to the Waimakariri.

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