Banned driver sped as police pursued

16:00, Nov 29 2012

A disqualified driver twice eluded police in hot pursuit, reaching speeds of 165kmh as he sped along the Forgotten World Highway.

Rowan Martin Tonga, 35, was alone in his Subaru when he accelerated away from police at high speed on State Highway 43 near Stratford on October 23.

The pursuit lasted 13 minutes and over a distance of more than 26 kilometres, only ending when Tonga conceded defeat, pulling over in Strathmore.

Police discovered he was a disqualified driver and was on bail for similar offending.

In the New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday, Tonga pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop for police and disqualified driving.

Tonga had earlier argued with his partner at their home in Inglewood then made the foolish decision to leave in his car, the court heard.

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Once arrested, Tonga was co-operative and remorseful, admitting he had earlier evaded police in Stratford because he was disqualified.

Judge Max Courtney said Tonga was on bail at the time of the pursuit after pleading guilty to other driving charges on September 12.

By driving dangerously on the open road while fleeing from police, reaching grossly excessive speeds and often straddling the centre line, he put the public, himself and the police at risk, the judge said.

His lawyer, Turitea Bolstad, said Tonga acknowledged he had gone off the rails in last few months. When in jail, it was discovered he had diabetes and was now getting treatment for it, Ms Bolstad said.

The judge said Tonga should not have got into the car to avoid confrontation with his partner.

"This was the wrong way to deal with it.

"You should have walked away from the situation."

Tonga was given credit for his early guilty plea and jailed for two months. His car was confiscated and he was further disqualified from driving for a year.

Taranaki Daily News