Jail terms for South Canterbury dangerous drivers

A Timaru man who drove at speeds of 170kmh, and a Temuka man who overturned his car on a railway, both while trying to ...

A Timaru man who drove at speeds of 170kmh, and a Temuka man who overturned his car on a railway, both while trying to evade police, have each been jailed.

A Timaru man whose dangerous driving was described as close to the "worst of its kind", and a Temuka man who reached speeds of 170kmh during a police chase, were both jailed following appearances at the Timaru District Court on Thursday.

Michael Desmond Coles, of Temuka, was jailed for eight months after being convicted of charges of driving while disqualified, dangerous driving and a third or subsequent charge of failing to stop.

Timaru man Matthew Raymond Smith, 24, was sentenced to 20 months in prison on two charges of wilful damage, and one charge each of burglary, shoplifting, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, failing to stop, dangerous driving, and a breach of court release conditions.

Coles had previously been convicted of failing to stop, and had also been indefinitely banned from driving.

According to the summary of facts, on August 27 last year Coles was driving west on Wai-iti Rd and passed a police car.

Spotting the registration plate on the car was from another vehicle, police activated their lights and sirens to try and stop Coles.

He sped away from the scene, and when police moved alongside to try and get him to stop, Coles swerved to the right and forced the police officer to take evasive action.

Coles drove down Claremont Rd, then Barton Rd and Landsborough Rd, before stopping suddenly and reversing towards the police car as it was coming past.

He drove on, however after tracking him for 98 kilometres, close to Albury, police lost sight of Coles.

At times during the pursuit Coles reached speeds of 170kmh, police said.

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When he was eventually arrested, Coles told them he hadn't stopped because he didn't have a current and valid driving licence.

In jailing Coles, Judge Joanna Maze said he had previously been imprisoned following a similar incident in 2013.

"The only conclusion I can draw is that despite the risk to yourself, the attending police officers and other innocent members of the public, who might get in your way, you have a tendency to behave in this fashion.

"You present an unacceptable risk to others."

In sentencing Smith to a 20 month term of imprisonment, Judge Maze described his dangerous driving as "close to the worst of its kind".

According to the police summary, on June 29 Smith used a wooden mallet to smash the window of a Ford Falcon, then broke the window of a dairy from which he stole cash.

He then walked to the Waimate Library and smashed the CCTV cameras outside.

Smith got into an unlocked Nissan nearby and drove away.

At 3am the next morning Smith was spotted by police driving at 66kmh in a 50kmh zone.

When police activated their lights and sirens in pursuit of Smith, he accelerated to speeds of up to 120kmh while driving in the dark without his headlights on.

While driving along a railway line during his flight from police, the vehicle overturned.

Smith had multiple previous convictions including burglaries in 2013 and 2014, and had a significant drug and alcohol problem, Judge Maze said.

Defence counsel Kelly Beazley said Smith was "one hundred per cent ready to embark on a new life", and wanted to complete a course of rehabilitation.

Judge Maze started with a sentence of 24 months, which was upgraded by three months for the aggravating factors of previous offending and personal circumstances.

Smith was given a seven month credit for his guilty plea, to leave a final sentence of 20 months in prison.

He was also banned from driving for 12 months, and ordered to pay reparations totalling $842.83.

 - Stuff

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