Arrest after 'low speed' chase

By Mike Dinsdale

A man who allegedly had a large hunting knife and mask in his car led Whangarei police on a "low speed" chase covering about 100km before he was stopped after all four of his tyres were burst by police using road spikes.

The action started just after 2.20am on Saturday when a man in a BMW car sped past a police alcohol checkpoint in Raumanga. Acting Sergeant Jeremy Weston, of Whangarei, said the man then led police on a chase to Warkworth, although he did not exceed 80km/h, even on the open road.

Motorists travelling on State Highway 1 between Warkworth and Whangarei were forced to take evasive action as the fleeing driver weaved his car on both sides of the road during the hour-long pursuit, which only ended after police used road spikes to burst all four tyres and the vehicle was driven a distance on its rims.

Mr Weston said the way the police managed the pursuit - including a police car travelling ahead of the chase to warn oncoming motorists - meant that nobody was injured.

He said when arrested the man had a large hunting knife and mask in the front of the vehicle, although police are unsure what he was intending to use the items for.

Mr Weston said as the BMW approached the alcohol checkpoint on Saturday morning the driver accelerated past two officers. Police tried to stop the man on SH1 a short time later, but he failed to stop, continuing driving at 70km/h to 80km/h and ignoring police efforts to stop him.

He said police tried to use road spikes to stop the vehicle three times before the four tyres were finally burst by road spikes.

Mr Weston said police eventually took the unusual step of forcing the vehicle off the road near Warkworth after the driving became more erratic.

Five police cars were involved in the chase, including a car from the Waitemata police district which travelled 1km ahead flashing its lights to warn motorists.

Mr Weston said police involved in the pursuit were able to control the chase without putting other motorists at more risk than necessary. He said police believed the driver had mental health issues and unresolved family problems which led to his behaviour.

A 20-year-old Whangarei man has been arrested and charged with possessing an offensive weapon, dangerous driving and failing to stop for police. He was assessed by mental health services and is in custody. He was due to appear in the Whangarei District Court today and police were to oppose bail.

- Northern Advocate

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