Police bungle allowed boy racer's car to escape crusher

By Hamish McNeilly

The car that escaped the crusher. Photo / ODT
The car that escaped the crusher. Photo / ODT

The first boy racer car ordered to be destroyed under tough new laws escaped the crusher after a police blunder.

Karn Clarrie Forrest, of Milton, became the first person in the country to have his car ordered confiscated and crushed under new boy racer legislation. Police have confirmed the 1982 Toyota Corolla DX was not crushed due to a "deficiency in the police process".

Forrest was charged after police spotted him doing doughnuts on State Highway 1 on September 29, 2011. His Toyota was impounded for 28 days, but before his court appearance he swapped the ownership of the vehicle with a van, and the plates with a stripped vehicle.

He received his third conviction for driving with sustained loss of traction on December 12, 2011. Following that appearance, the Otago Daily Times took a photo of a stripped vehicle parked in Forrest's driveway with the registration KS6755 - the same registration of the vehicle ordered to be crushed.

While awaiting final orders for the car to be crushed, a Dunedin scrap metal dealer noted the chassis identification number did not match the seized vehicle.

In April 2012, police confirmed the car had been subject to a last-minute switch. They confirmed Forrest was able to change the ownership of the vehicle "due to a deficiency in the police process in the early stages". An officer had failed to issue a notice prohibiting the sale or disposal of the vehicle when Forrest was charged, or before his vehicle was released from the impound.

"At the time of these events, this legislation was relatively unused in Southern. Police staff are now aware of the need to issue such notices in similar circumstances," a spokeswoman said.

In April 2012, Inspector Greg Sparrow, of Dunedin, said police had interviewed a number of people in connection with the case and "charges are pending". However, a police investigation had since established no offence had been committed in relation to how the vehicle was dealt with.

"The court was unable to order that the vehicle be destroyed because Mr Forrest no longer owned it."

Forrest received 150 hours of community work and was disqualified from driving for 13 months.

Questions concerning the matter were referred to Police Minister Anne Tolley, who said: "I would expect that the same thing will not happen again."

Boy racer offences had halved since the legislation was introduced so it is "clearly having a very positive effect".

"The goal is not to crush cars but to see less dangerous and anti-social behaviour, so that our roads are safer for everyone."

- Otago Daily Times

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