Court hears of rogue drivers' antics

LYN HUMPHREYS LYN.HUMPHREYS@DAILYNEWS.CO.NZ
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012

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The shocking driving antics and excessive high speeds of some of Taranaki's most dangerous motorists were revealed in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday.

The revelations of risk-taking behaviour follow a tragic week of deaths on the roads leading into Christmas.

In court yesterday Community Magistrate Sherida Cooper was unimpressed with motorcyclist Daniel Wayne Featonby, 43, who sped past an unmarked police car on State Highway 3 near Midhirst on his Triumph on a busy Saturday morning on December 1.

In doing so, he went over a no-passing yellow line. The police radar clocked him at 172kmh.

Close behind was his mate on another motorcycle.

When pulled over by police, the pair said they were running late and trying to catch up with the Round the Mountain Salvation Army Toy Run.

In less than half an hour, two other motorcyclists in the toy run were killed in a collision near the Normanby overbridge.

Featonby was fined $1000 and disqualified from driving for six months.

The magistrate told Tayla Monique Nickson, 21, who also admitted a charge of dangerous driving in North Taranaki that it was a wonder no-one was killed by her actions.

At 8.30am on November 2, the timber processor was driving south from Mt Messenger to Urenui in her red Honda on SH3.

She drove over 150kmh, passing vehicles on blind corners and on stretches of road without the required visibility of the road ahead. When her cellphone rang, she reached for it, taking her eyes off the road. The car hit the gravel, Nickson over-corrected and the car careened through a boundary fence and smashed into a bank before coming to rest against a tree.

Her lawyer, Turitea Bolstad, said her client was upset that day about a relationship and said she shouldn't have been driving.

"She is grateful no-one was hurt," Ms Bolstad said.

The magistrate said the summary of the events were shocking reading.

"It's a wonder you didn't kill someone."

Nickson was fined $700 plus court costs and disqualified from driving for six months.

She was ordered to pay the fence owner $261.20 at $30 per week for the repair of the fence.

Apprentice mechanic Jarrod Stuart Birkett, 20, admitted dangerous driving on December 16, a Sunday night.

When a police patrol spotted Birkett's Nissan Skyline had no tail lights on SH3 near Waitara, they turned on their lights and siren to pull him over.

But Birkett hit the gas and sped off.

Birkett reached speeds of 180kmh driving into oncoming lanes near the intersection with Mamaku Rd, and overtaking a truck before continuing along the Waitara bypass.

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Birkett lost control of his car entering the intersection with Princess St, his brakes locked and he skidded 50 metres along the highway, mounting a traffic island. He continued to accelerate along Princess St with his car spewing clouds of smoke.

When Birkett finally pulled over at the Bayly St intersection, he told police he was scared.

Defence counsel Ms Bolstad said her client accepted he panicked and, while he did not believe he travelled at 180kmh, he did go over the speed limit.

He was fined $600 and court costs, and disqualified from driving for nine months.

- Taranaki Daily News

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