A coroner has recommended a change to police pursuit policy, after reviewing the death of a motorcyclist who crashed and died in a dead-end street.
Leith David Barnes, 28, an auto-electrician from Timaru, died in Newlands after crashing his 900cc Honda Hornet motorbike down a 10-metre bank in the Ladbrooke Dr cul-de-sac.
He was fleeing at high speed from a police car about 4pm on January 13, 2010.
The officer who pursued Mr Barnes was found innocent of any wrongdoing by the Independent Police Conduct Authority in 2011. Police had requested the officer's identity be withheld, but that was denied by Wellington regional coroner Ian Smith, who identified the driver only as Senior Constable Stil.
At a coroner's inquest in Wellington in May, Detective Senior Sergeant Christopher Moore said an investigation following the fatal crash revealed Mr Barnes had a "predilection" for fleeing police, had an interest in fleeing driver clips on YouTube, and was on a motorcycle he was not legally allowed to ride.
"It is my conclusion that the fatal outcome of this pursuit is purely the responsibility of Mr Barnes . . . [He] had the opportunity to stop and be spoken to."
But Mr Smith said in his findings, released today, that police should learn a lesson from the death and change their pursuit policy for dead-end streets.
Though changes had been made to policy since the 2010 crash, particularly around the police search phase following an abandoned pursuit, the coroner said additional changes need to be considered.
''I believe that the police need to conduct a further review ... such that when the police are aware that a driver of a vehicle is failing to stop when required and has entered into a cul-de-sac or a dead-end road then the pursuit should be called off for public safety reasons.''
Mr Smith recommended to the commissioner of police that ''consideration be given to amending the police fleeing driver policy'' for pursuits to cease when they head into a dead-end road.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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