Three drivers fled from Northland police within hours of each other, with one allegedly setting the stolen car he was driving on fire after running out of petrol up a hill before attempting to reverse and smash into a pursuing patrol vehicle.
Two of the cars involved were stolen from Whangarei and one was being driven by a 17-year-old. Police have reiterated recent warnings by judges in Northland courts that those who do not stop when police asked them to and then went on to commit other offences, would dig themselves a deeper hole.
Courts in Northland have taken a tough stand against such drivers by sending them to prison. Acting road policing manager in Northland, Inspector Wayne Ewers, said people continued to make stupid decisions by fleeing from police at dangerous speeds, despite the judge's warning.
"They have no respect for others. If you're signalled to stop, pull over and stop," Mr Ewers said.
He said fleeing drivers put not only their lives in danger but the lives of police and members of the public as well.
Acting Sergeant Anthony Willemse said a vehicle, reported stolen from Morningside Rd, Whangarei, was seen by police on Otaika Rd about 2.45am on Saturday. A chase ensued along State Highway 14 then back on to SH1 after the 17-year-old driver allegedly failed to stop. He finally stopped near Gull, south of Whangarei.
The young man is facing charges of drink driving, driving while disqualified, driving at a dangerous speed, driving in a dangerous manner, failing to stop, unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle, and resisting police.
Mr Willemse said another car, a Toyota Corolla, was reported stolen at 1.15pm on Friday. It was sighted at Whakapara and when police arrived, the 31-year-old male driver allegedly sped away along Old Russell Rd, on to Pigs' Head Rd, before turning into SH1.
He then entered Whananaki North Rd and continued to drive dangerously, regularly crossing into the opposite lane, while throwing items out of the car. "He ran out of gas up a hill and set the vehicle on fire before attempting to reverse it in to a pursuing police vehicle but missed as the police car reversed out of the way," Mr Willemse said.
The stolen car hit a bank before the driver jumped out and attempted to escape. A police officer arrested him with the help of a local farm hand.
The driver is facing charges of failing to stop, driving in a dangerous manner, refusing blood, receiving property worth more than $1000, aggravated assault, and wilful damage. Both fleeing drivers will appear in the Whangarei District Court today.
The other fleeing driver was arrested in Kaikohe on Friday evening. The 30-year-old man allegedly led police on a chase on SH12.
He will appear in the Kaikohe District Court tomorrow on charges of failing to stop, driving while disqualified, driving at a dangerous speed, giving false details, and breaching his zero alcohol licence. It's not clear what speeds the drivers were going during the pursuits.
Last month Judge Duncan Harvey sounded the warning in the Whangarei District Court saying jail is an inevitable outcome for fleeing drivers who appear before him.