North Canterbury chase driver jailed

Court House-Sept-2013-05A man has been jailed for three years for a dangerous high-speed chase across North Canterbury in heavy traffic last September while he was trying to hide from police.

Kyle James Clarke, 23, was sentenced on charges of unlawfully taking a car, recklessly driving it on the Northern Motorway, failing to stop for police, driving while forbidden, entering an enclosed yard, intentionally damaging a fence, being found unlawfully in a building, and breaching court conditions.

Defence counsel Colin Eason said the bulk of Clarke’s offending occurred while he was trying to hide from police. Clarke had been in a rehabilitation programme but his life fell apart, he said.

Clarke was a considerate and trustworthy young man who could hold down employment, but he was affected by his addiction to drugs. He needed an effective long-term residential rehabilitation programme, Mr Eason said.

Clarke, who is from Geraldine, entered a property on Ashbys Road in Amberley, and drove off on a four-wheel motorcycle which he abandoned on Harleston Road, Sefton.

He was found by the owner on a property in Sefton, and she took him to the Waikuku petrol station where the owner of the bike saw Clarke and tussled with him.

Clarke ran off and found an unlocked car with keys in the ignition and drove it on State Highway One where police saw him, and chased him.

He was driving on the wrong side of the road in heavy traffic, so police abandoned the chase.

Clarke continued to drive recklessly through Belfast, travelling at high speed to New Brighton where he drove across Rawhiti Domain, and ended up along Dyers Road where he swerved around other vehicles and scattered road cones at the extensive road works.

He drove through a fence at Forest Hill Place, through a small reserve, and abandoned the car on Cob Crescent, Woolston. A police dog tracked him to a nearby garage.

Judge David Saunders said Clarke had breached his Timaru Court release conditions when this occurred.

He said Clarke’s driving had the potential to cause significant harm and damage to innocent road users, and Clarke did not care about the safety of others on the road.

He said Clarke had absolutely no right to take the car and caused significant damage to it when he crashed into the fence.

He sentenced him to three years in prison, and disqualified him from driving for two years. The disqualification will affect him if he gets early release from prison, and will stop him from doing any driving work on the prison farm.

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