A Nelson woman who reached speeds of 180kmh while fleeing from police said she was speeding because she was running late for a waxing appointment.
Joni Leanne Mitchell, 26, appeared in the Nelson District Court yesterday and admitted a number of charges, including resisting police, wilful damage, recklessly operating a motor vehicle, and two counts of failing to stop for police.
Charges of reckless driving, wilful damage and dangerous driving were withdrawn by police.
Prosector Sergeant Chris Stringer said Mitchell was driving a Toyota car from Nelson towards Motueka on July 27 when she sped around a corner and crashed into a roadside barrier.
She kept going, and passed a marked police car going the other way, which clocked her speed at 139kmh in a 100kmh zone, Mr Stringer said. The officer activated his siren and Mitchell accelerated away, reaching speeds of over 170kmh.
There were a number of vehicles on the road, and the officer abandoned the chase due to "dangerous speeds".
Mr Stringer said another police car saw Mitchell further on and activated its siren. Mitchell continued driving towards Richmond, reaching speeds of 180kmh in an 80kmh zone.
Evading police, she drove along the white median strip in the middle of the road to avoid traffic.
Mr Stringer said Mitchell hit another vehicle, causing $1300 worth of damage.
She eventually came to a stop after her car wheels locked.
She then tried to run from police on to a private property, and damaged a fence while trying to climb over it.
Mitchell broke free the first time she was caught by a police officer, but was recaptured. She only calmed down when she was in the police car.
When asked why she was speeding, Mitchell said she had been "running late for a waxing appointment" and was unaware that police were pursuing her.
Mitchell was supposed to appear in court last week but did not show up. Defence lawyer Dave Holloway said she came to court voluntarily yesterday.
Mr Holloway handed Judge Paul Whitehead a note from Mitchell's doctor and asked that she be given name suppression. He said the case made for "fairly salacious reading" and could be misconstrued by the public.
Judge Whitehead said there would be no name suppression regarding Mitchell's traffic offences.
He said he had read a psychiatrist's report, and accepted that Mitchell had physiological symptoms of anxiety.
However, this did not fully explain what happened on July 27, the judge said.
It might be that Mitchell panicked, but it appeared to him that synthetic cannabis caused her to act the way she did, he said.
"Your behaviour was appalling. It was determined, persistent, and downright dangerous. You are lucky to still be standing here in the dock. So, too, are the public at large who were put at risk by you and your driving."
Mitchell was sentenced to 200 hours of community work and nine months' supervision, and ordered to see the alcohol and drug clinic and undertake any psychological treatments ordered by the probation service.
She was also disqualified from driving for 11 months and ordered to pay $50 reparation for the damage to the fence.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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