Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Might of law falls on boy racer's wheels

Police Minister Anne Tolley inspects the Nissan Laurel after it was crushed in Lower Hutt yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Police Minister Anne Tolley inspects the Nissan Laurel after it was crushed in Lower Hutt yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Four years after the former police minister's punitive car-crushing law was introduced, the first person to clock up three strikes for driving offences has had his vehicle squashed into a 30cm-high mess of metal and glass.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said that the law's architect, Judith Collins, had wanted to witness the spectacle at the Lower Hutt scrap metal yard yesterday morning but had to attend a select committee meeting.

Smiling broadly, Mrs Tolley pressed the button to activate two 150-tonne presses, which crushed the stripped Nissan Laurel in less than a minute.

Standing on the bonnet of the crushed car, she said the Government needed to send a graphic deterrent to prevent another generation of boy racers.

"If you continue to break the law, you are going to pay the consequences."

When she described the "spectacular" car-crushing in Parliament later in the day, Mrs Collins wore a wide grin.

The Nissan was believed to have belonged to Paraparaumu teenager Daniel Briant.

His car was seized after three driving offences - driving while suspended, wheel-spinning and dangerous driving - and he was banned from driving for 21 months.

The wheel-spinning took place on State Highway One near Paraparaumu, and he was arrested when he tried to change his tyres at a nearby carpark.

Mr Briant and his family declined to comment yesterday.

He placed a photograph of the car doing a wheel-spin on his Facebook page, and friends commented "Long Live the Laurel".

Mr Briant wrote that the police had stripped the car including expensive new tyres, rims, the motor and hubcaps. He spoke of the "good memories" in the Nissan and said he could "build another one easy enough".

The seized car was bought by the wreckers, who were then entitled to sell the car's parts. Police reported that three hours after receiving his third strike, Briant performed another burnout and crashed into a fence. He was awaiting sentence for the incident.

Asked whether car-crushing could be considered a successful deterrent when the driver immediately committed another offence, Ms Tolley said: "There will always be extreme cases."

She said there was no evidence that the harsh measure would create a bigger gap between police and drivers, and said street racing-related offences had fallen by 30 per cent since the law's introduction.

Acting Superintendent Rob Morgan said it could not be automatically assumed that the threat of car crushing had contributed to the decline in street racing.

But he said it was one of several tools police had used to make roads safer.

The dubious honour of the first car-crushing nearly went to Milton teenager Karn Forrest in April, but he switched his 1982 Toyota Corolla DX for another car and police halted the crushing.

Another 116 drivers are on two strikes for driving offences.

- NZ Herald

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