Released inmate 'drove like a madman'

A man tried to ram police cars during a high-speed chase from Cheviot to just north of Kaikoura barely 24 hours after he got out of prison, a court has heard.

Judge Tony Zohrab said Patrick Hohepa Marshall "drove like a madman" during the chase on February 15, and police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single said Marshall forced other cars off the road during the chase. Marshall, 43, also admitted breaking into a house and making himself a meal before stealing items.

Marshall was appearing in the Blenheim District Court yesterday where he admitted dishonestly taking two cars, dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, driving while disqualified a third or subsequent offence and entering a building with intent to commit a crime.

He was remanded for sentencing in April.

Mr Single said Marshall stole the first car on the night of February 14.

When he was spotted by police, driving north through Cheviot the next day he sped away, overtaking just before blind corners and forcing four oncoming cars off the road while overtaking on a straight, he said. Marshall abandoned the car near a farm north of Cheviot, where he broke into the house and made a meal before taking items including prescription medication, fishing gear and a sleeping bag and leaving in another stolen car, Mr Single said.

At 6.30pm police received reports of a person, who turned out to be Marshall, driving erratically towards Kaikoura, he said. When they tried to pull Marshall over he sped away again, overtaking on blind corners and crossing the centre line at least twice, he said.

Near the Kaikoura Golf Course he reversed and tried to ram a police car and tried to ram the car again soon after forcing the driver to take evasive action, Mr Single said.

Drivers in Kaikoura were also forced to take evasive action to avoid Marshall before police were finally able to stop him on the outskirts of the town, Mr Single said.

Judge Zohrab said Marshall had been out of prison for only 24 hours when he stole the first car. Marshall had 285 convictions and had been sent to prison about 100 times, he said.

Defence lawyer John Holdaway said Marshall had a longterm drug addiction, which had fuelled most of his offending and he wanted help through a rehabilitation sentence. Judge Zohrab said Marshall would be sent to prison, but some rehabilitation could be included in his release conditions.

The Marlborough Express