Judge sentences fleeing driver to 11 months' jail

By Imran Ali

1 comment
Levi Rapana was jailed for 11 months.
Levi Rapana was jailed for 11 months.

A Whangarei judge was not prepared to give a teenage driver who twice fled from police another chance.

Levi Rapana was jailed for 11 months when he appeared for sentencing in the Whangarei District Court last week on charges of unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle, drink driving, driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, failing to stop and resisting police.

He was also up on charges of breaches of bail, community work and intensive supervision.

His lawyer John Day asked the court to give Rapana a shot at home detention as jail would make him more entrenched in his attitude.

But Judge McDonald said he as the presiding judge would cop the blame if the teenager received a non-custodial sentence and, after having a skinful of alcohol, decided to again get behind the wheel and killed an innocent member of the public on the road.

"He was extremely lucky he didn't kill someone. And what does he do when he gets caught - fights police. In some other jurisdiction, he would have been shot dead Mr Day," the judge said.

On November 24 last year, Rapana was sentenced to 18 months intensive supervision and 150 hours community work on charges of unlawfully interfering with a motor vehicle, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, reckless driving and failing to stop.

On January 9 this year, he was spotted by a police driving a stolen Subaru minus its tail lights on Otaika Valley Rd with a passenger seated beside him.

When asked to pull over, Rapana sped off and reached speeds of 95km/h in a 50km/h zone along State Highway 14 in Maunu. He attempted to avoid road spikes laid by police by driving over a traffic island and on to the opposite lane. One tyre was spiked but he continued to drive and turned into State Highway 1 near Gull where his passenger got out and ran away. Rapana was arrested shortly afterwards.

Judge McDonald said despite receiving a "good sentence" to turn his life around last year, Rapana 'thumbed his nose' at the courts and decided he would do as he pleased.

A pre-sentence report said Rapana would not agree to any community-based sentence and would not change his attitude towards courts and police.

- Northern Advocate

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