Driver on synthetic highs stole car

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 11:16 29/05/2014

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An inexperienced driver high on synthetic cannabis crashed a stolen car as he sped home to meet his bail curfew, the Nelson District Court has heard.

Liam Shane Marsh, 18, pleaded guilty this week to two counts of assaulting a person with a car, theft of a motor vehicle and driving in a dangerous manner.

Police prosecutor Ruth Thomas told the court Marsh was at an associate's house smoking legal highs at 4.15pm on March 28.

He phoned his father asking him to pick him up so that he could get home before his electronic bail began at 7pm.

His father refused saying he should either take a bus or grab a ride from friend.

While walking, Marsh noticed a Nissan S-Cargo car parked outside Auto Super Shoppe Nelson City in Gloucester St with the keys inside the ignition.

Marsh attempted to drive off with the car when employee Aidan Hogarth put his hands on the bonnet and another man from a nearby business tried to grab Marsh through the window.

Hogarth had to jump out of the way to avoid getting run over. He was shaken, but received no injuries.

The other victim was struck by the side of the vehicle and fell onto a driveway suffering cuts and grazes.

Despite not having a licence and having driven only on a farm, Marsh drove at 100kmh through the city. In Brook St he narrowly missed a cyclist, before swerving onto the other side of the road, over the curb and down a 20-metre bank.

The car struck and demolished a clothesline, compost bin and raised garden in a Sugarloaf Place property.

Marsh broke his pelvis and fractured his arm in the crash.

He told police he did not want to breach his bail conditions. He admitted to smoking synthetic cannabis.

He said he had driven past his home as the adrenaline was too much and he was having too much fun to stop driving.

Defence lawyer Brett Daniell-Smith said Marsh had a serious brain injury and it did not help that he regularly smoked legal highs.

His parents sat at the back of the court to support him, he said.

Judge Tony Zohrab remanded Marsh on bail for sentencing on July 7.

Outside court, Auto Super Shoppe manager Andrew Bradley said the firm's insurance did not cover theft so he had to meet the cost of the $4000 car.

He also had to cover the cost of removing the vehicle from the Brook St property.

Bradley was serving customers when he saw Marsh try to take the car. He ran outside but it was too late.

"The guy knew what he was doing, where he was going and he was not going to stop for anyone."

A few nights earlier Marsh had come in and asked to use a telephone. "He told us he had to get home in time so that an alarm in his ankle bracelet did not go off so we called a taxi."

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Hogarth, who tried to stop Marsh, said he was happy he had pleaded guilty.

It was ironic that Marsh would steal a car so he could comply with his bail curfew, he said.

"The logic factor was not there. It was a case of the lights were on but no-one was home."

- The Nelson Mail

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