Driver who fled police escapes jail time

By Imran Ali

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Alaric Eccleston, 30, was spared jail so he could be treated for his drug addiction.
Alaric Eccleston, 30, was spared jail so he could be treated for his drug addiction.

A methamphetamine addict who crashed a stolen ute into an oncoming vehicle, injuring the female driver during a police pursuit, has been spared jail so he can be treated for his drug addiction.

Alaric Eccleston, 30, appeared for sentence in the Whangarei District Court last week after earlier pleading guilty to charges of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, driving reckless causing injury, possession of cannabis plant, and failing to stop. He also admitted to three charges of breach of release conditions and two of theft.

Judge Duncan Harvey said Eccleston's reckless driving was among the worst he could recall and it was fortunate he did not kill anyone.

A Holden Colorado ute was stolen from a car park in Auckland on June 13, 2015. Judge Harvey said a week later, police spotted the ute being driven by Eccleston along Tarewa Rd in Whangarei and attempted to stop the vehicle using flashing red and blue lights and siren.

However, Eccleston fled at speed and through stop signs along Otaika Rd, Porowini Ave, State Highway 14, Maunu Rd, Wood Rd, Railway Rd, Walton St, and Hospital Rd.

Other motorists were forced to brake hard at traffic lights and take evasive action to avoid colliding with the ute.

After doing a U-turn on Wood Rd, he appeared to aim the ute at the oncoming police patrol car which caused officers to veer out of the way, the summary of facts said. Eccleston pulled another U-turn on Hospital Rd and shortly after turning into Maunu Rd at speed, crashed head-on into another car. The female driver of the car he crashed into suffered a fractured sternum.

He then jumped out and began running off but was stopped by a member of the public who held him for a short time before police arrived.

A zip-lock bag containing 11 grams of cannabis plant material was recovered from Eccleston's pocket.

Defence lawyer Aaron Dooney said Eccleston was deeply remorseful for his action and he had been in custody since June last year.

Judge Harvey said he was prepared to give Eccleston a chance with a condition that he received treatment for his P addiction at Odyssey House. He said Eccleston had been in custody for seven months which was equivalent to a 14-month prison term.

He sentenced him to 10 months home detention at Odyssey House.

Eccleston was also ordered to pay $50 reparation for the theft of diesel from a service station in Auckland.

- Northern Advocate

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