Drugged driver in trail of crashes

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014

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Motorists scattered as a heavily-drugged and speeding driver drove straight at them on the wrong side of several of New Plymouth's main roads.

The potential demolition derby only ended when the driver destroyed his car by crashing into the back of a parked car.

The impact catapulted the parked car into the path of a mother and her two children who narrowly avoided the car as they walked along a suburban footpath on the afternoon of September 7.

In the New Plymouth District Court yesterday Mark Russell Coleman, 31, admitted driving under the influence of drugs - the class C controlled drug Lorazepam and prescription drug Zopiclone - dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of a crash.

In the first incident he drove his Mazda into the rear of a stationary car waiting at the intersection of Devon St East and Liardet St.

Coleman did not stop and nor did his victim.

A few minutes later, at 3.35pm on Leach St, he sideswiped a parked car and again failed to stop.

This time another driver, concerned at what he saw, called police and followed Coleman through the streets providing police with updates.

On his way through the city, Coleman failed to stop at stop signs, frequently crossing the centre line causing oncoming traffic to take evasive action to avoid head-on collisions.

He reached 75kmh within the 50kmh city limits as he drove along Devon St West, then turned left into Barrett Rd driving up onto the traffic island as he did so.

At the Poplar Grove intersection he stopped on the wrong side of the road for a short time then drove off again, finally crashing into the rear of a parked car.

The force of the crash shunted the parked car onto the footpath where it narrowly missed a woman walking on the footpath with her two young children.

Both cars were severely damaged, the police report says.

With Coleman's car immobilised, the following driver got the keys out of his car and kept him there until police arrived to arrest him.

When having the blood test, Coleman kept falling asleep and had to be roused several times.

Judge Allan Roberts agreed to remand Coleman on bail to allow a restorative justice conference to be organised and for reparation to be worked out. Coleman is to reappear on February 12.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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