Tauranga police chase: 14 new charges

By Amy McGillivray

Donny Falakoa, 32, appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday where he covered his face and gave a rude gesture while being photographed.
Donny Falakoa, 32, appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday where he covered his face and gave a rude gesture while being photographed.

The man allegedly at the centre of a police chase through suburban Tauranga is facing a raft of new charges.

Donny Falakoa, 32, appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday facing 14 new charges, including unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle, assault with intent to rob using a firearm, using a firearm against law enforcement, theft of a motor vehicle, reckless discharge of a firearm, failing to stop for police and driving in a dangerous manner.

The charges relate to a police pursuit on July 30, in which shots were allegedly fired at police.

According to police at the time, the pursuit began about 8.45pm on July 30, when they received a driving complaint on State Highway 2 near Katikati.

A short time later the vehicle was found in Whakamarama, but as police approached the vehicle it was allegedly driven off at speed towards Tauranga.

A pursuit started and spikes were used in an attempt to stop the vehicle, police said. The car then lost control at a roundabout in Baypark and a man from the car is alleged to have fired shots towards three police officers as they left their vehicles.

Police said the man also attempted to take vehicles from members of the public at gunpoint. The car hit road spikes and the officer deploying them narrowly avoided being struck by the vehicle.

Police then lost sight of the vehicle and began area searches. About 40 minutes later, the vehicle was seen again near the Maungatapu Bridge and another pursuit started.

The vehicle was followed on to Marine Parade before the man is alleged to have again pointed a gun out the driver's window before it fell to the ground. Judge Cameron yesterday described the charges as "extremely serious".

A media application to photograph Falakoa was granted despite strong opposition from defence lawyer Tony Rickard-Simms. "There is a strong media interest in this alleged offending and a legitimate media interest," Judge Cameron said. Falakoa hid his face and gave a rude gesture while he was being photographed.

Falakoa did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody until his next appearance on September 25.

The charges

• Unlawfully gets into a motor vehicle
• Procure/possess cannabis plant
• Use firearm against law enforcement x2
• Aggravated robbery with a firearm
• Assault with intent to rob using a firearm x2
• Theft of motor vehicle
• Reckless discharge of a firearm
• Failing to stop for police x2
• Driving in a dangerous manner

- Bay of Plenty Times

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