Police chase ends in conviction

Last updated 08:51 09/06/2014

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A 29-year-old Picton man has been found guilty on four driving-related charges, following a police chase.

Joseph Eden Clark had denied the charges, of dangerous driving, failing to stop for red and blue flashing lights, refusing an officer's request for a blood specimen, and driving while disqualified.

Constable James MacKenzie, of Picton, told the Blenheim District Court on Friday that he had been on duty on November 8, when the pursuit took place.

He was patrolling the Nelson Square area in Picton about 11.45pm when he noticed a Nissan Terrano truck driving across the square.

As it came out of the square, the truck drove up over a traffic island that separates Nelson Square from Wairau Rd, before making its way back to the correct side of the road.

MacKenzie activated his flashing lights but the driver of the truck failed to stop, continuing past the Picton police station and on to Waikawa Rd. As the truck turned into Waikawa Rd, the driver was illuminated by MacKenzie's headlights, and he identified him as a male with scruffy hair, stubble on his face and wearing a blue top.

He continued to follow the truck, which drove up and down streets off Waikawa Rd in the area between Sussex and Surrey streets, reaching speeds of up to 80kmh, driving without the headlights on, and failing to stop at intersections controlled by give way signs.

MacKenzie lost sight of the vehicle for a short time, before calling off the pursuit to wait for backup from Blenheim.

The vehicle was found parked in Surrey St, and a Blenheim dog handler and police dog were deployed.

A cordon was then set up nearby in Hampden St. Shortly afterward, Clark appeared in the street and walked towards the cordon.

He matched the description of the driver MacKenzie had seen, was spoken to by police and arrested.

Clark underwent a breath-screening test, which showed he was over the drink-driving limit of 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath but he refused to undergo a blood-alcohol test.

He denied being the driver of the vehicle, saying he had been drinking with friends that night and that someone else must have taken his truck.

Judge Tony Zohrab said although evidence in the hearing was circumstantial, it had been "compelling and overwhelming". He convicted Clark on the charges, as well as a further charge of disorderly behaviour relating to a separate incident, which he admitted on Friday.

Clark has been remanded for sentencing on July 28.

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- The Marlborough Express

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