Man appears in court

By Abby Gillies


A man who allegedly drove a stolen taxi the wrong way down an Auckland motorway last night has appeared in court.


Jared Wikeepa, 40, sparked a police pursuit after he flagged a Cheap Cabs taxi in west Auckland, then allegedly threatened the driver and stole the vehicle.


He is charged with intentionally damaging a vehicle, threatening to kill, assault, driving while forbidden, failing to give his details to police, failing to stop and stealing a vehicle.


Wikeepa's lawyer, Carl Dunne, applied for name suppression when he appeared in Waitakere District Court this afternoon because he had "long-standing mental health issues''.


He had recently been weaned off anti-psychotic medication, Mr Dunne said.


Community magistrate Fenella Thomas denied the application because she was not satisfied publication of his name would cause extreme hardship.


Wikeepa was remanded in custody overnight while police check whether he has a suitable bail address.


He allegedly left the taxi driver on the side of the road with only his cellphone while he "drove around west Auckland erratically'', said police northern communications centre shift manager Inspector Kerry Watson.


Police used GPS to track the taxi to Kumeu and pursued it along the North Western motorway, where it allegedly reached speeds of up to 150km/h.


It later hit a barrier at St Lukes, causing extensive damage to the taxi and then turned and the drove back onto the motorway travelling the wrong way, narrowly missing several vehicles, said Mr Watson.


A police patrol car tried to block the vehicle, and they collided, police said.


Just before Western Springs, Wikeepa allegedly abandoned the taxi in the middle of the road and a police dog tracked him a short distance from the vehicle.

- THE AUCKLANDER

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