The man at the centre of a police Armed Offenders search that shut down a major road in Whangārei for three hours on a Friday afternoon has been jailed for 18 months on a raft of offences.
Hiko Komene, 23, unemployed, appeared in the Whangārei District Court last weekfor sentencing after pleading guilty to charges of escaping police custody, possession of cannabis, reckless driving, possession of methamphetamine, three charges of failing to stop and two charges of dangerous driving.
Judge Christopher Field said Komene had placed the public at enormous risk with his dangerous and reckless driving. In one incident two young children walking on the footpath in Whangārei had to jump out of the way when Komene drove on to the footpath and around police trying to stop him.
During a second police pursuit, also in Whangārei, Komene's driving took him past a major secondary school just as students were leaving for home.
"You put the public at enormous risk with your driving, which really in terms of the offending is more serious than escaping police," Judge Field said.
Field said possession of methamphetamine was "a rather dangerous trend. It's a terrible substance to become addicted to".
A police summary said on August 15 last year a stolen car driven by Komene was seen leaving a Tikipunga property. But when officers flicked on their red and blue flashing lights indicating for Komene to pull over, he continued.
During the pursuit through Tikipunga streets, Komene reached speeds of 150km/h in 50km/h zones, drove on the wrong side of the road at a roundabout, and forced other motorists to take evasive action before police called off the chase.
Then seven days later Komene was seen again by police driving on Tarewa Rd. The police pursuit went along Central Ave where Komene drove straight towards two children walking on the footpath. Fortunately they jumped out of the path of the oncoming vehicle.
Komene was eventually stopped on King St where he fled on foot and ignored officers who told him he was under arrest. He managed to slip away through properties and was not found.
Then again on September 5 they same story played out again with Komene being seen driving a stolen car. A pursuit followed, it was abandoned and Komene yet again disappeared. but not after putting secondary school students as risk during the chase.
Finally on December 7, 2019, police got their man.
Komene was discovered in a house on Western Hills Dr and Armed Offender Squad members called for three hours for him to give himself up. Police said due to the danger posed Western Hills Dr was shut down, causing major disruption on a Friday afternoon in the pouring rain.
After three hours and as police moved into the property Komene gave himself up.
When police searched him at Whangārei police station they found methamphetamine in a belt bag he was wearing.
Lawyer Melissa Russell said a positive was Komene had engaged with a psychologist in prison.
"He appreciates he has to engage in the process to reduce the likelihood of him reoffending. He is in the right mind set to focus and that will assist him on his release."
Komene was remorseful and handed a letter to Judge Field on the day of sentencing.
Komene was subjected to a raft of release conditions including not to buy alcohol or drugs and complete drug and alcohol assessment and course as directed by a probation officer.