Driver led lengthy police chase

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 12:02 27/03/2014
CAR
JOEL MAXWELL

Track record: The stolen Mitsubishi Lancer after being towed from railway tracks in Otaki.

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A driver who allegedly led police on a 29km chase including driving along railway tracks was given the key to the stolen vehicle by police, its owner says.

On Monday police chased a 24-year-old male driver of a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer through Levin then south to Otaki.

The driver was caught after the car jammed on the Main Trunk railway line, about 100m from the Otaki River overbridge, and he tried to escape on foot, police said.

The car had to be towed from the tracks.

Levin tactical response group constable Liz Woodley said the chase started just after noon on Monday near the intersection of State Highway 57 and Queen St in Levin. "At that stage just one officer was following and the vehicle was a little ahead . . . and he's diverted down a couple of side streets and got away."

Police picked up the trail again when the car was spotted by another officer on Liverpool St.

"He's headed back out on State Highway 57, and headed towards Muhunoa East Rd, and then back on to State Highway 1, heading south."

She said an officer's attempt to lay spikes to stop the car failed after the driver allegedly swerved towards the officer who had to "jump out of the way".

"When it was on SH1 it underpassed a truck on the inside, and there was an attempt to spike it again just north of Otaki, I believe one wheel got spiked . . .

"He drove down a dirt road and travelled up toward, [then] onto the railway and travelled about 900m along the railway tracks until he got stuck."

The driver got out of the car and tried to escape on foot, she said.

"He's basically run across SH1, he didn't even look - that's the scary thing. And we've got him, just across the road."

The pursuit lasted about 26 minutes and covered about 29km, she said, with speeds reaching more than 150kmh.

Woodley said the driver faces at least four charges including reckless driving, unlawfully taking the car, failing to stop for police and driving while suspended.

He was set to appear in the Levin District Court today, she said.

Meanwhile at the scene on Monday the car's owner, Aaron O'Neil of Levin, said the car was stolen from outside the Porirua police station.

O'Neil said he was stopped by Porirua police on Paekakariki Hill Rd, who then discovered he had problems with an outstanding arrest warrant.

He was driving north to Levin and had agreed to drop a passenger, a "mate of some of my mates" off in Waikanae on the way, he said.

O'Neil said Porirua police had been helpful and driven his car back to the station rather than leave it on the side of the road.

However he said he told officers not to give the car keys to his passenger.

"Cop was told ‘he's disqualified, he's not driving my car', and cops gave him the keys and he stole it. Right from outside the police station."

Wellington District communications manager Nick Bohm said there was never any instruction to police from O'Neil about the keys or the car.

"They were trying to help O'Neil while he came in for a relatively short processing.

"His associate has taken it upon himself to then take that vehicle. And he is now facing charges for that."

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On Monday O'Neil said the warrant problems were resolved and he left the station and found his car gone.

He went straight back into the station and reported his car stolen, he said.

- Kapiti Observer

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