A man who tried to rob a petrol station then took police on three high-speed chases on consecutive days had a "no-stop policy", he said.
Damien Bruce McMillan, also known as Paaske (22), was jailed for two years, 10 months when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court last week and will be off the road until mid-2026.
Defence counsel Brian Kilkelly explained his client's woes began almost as soon as he was released from his previous prison sentence.
It was in the middle of last year's Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown and McMillan was unable to get access to support services, he said.
The defendant, who was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, began using methamphetamine as a form of "self-medication" and soon found his funds had run dry, the court heard.
On April 11 last year, McMillan tried to break into the Star and Garter restaurant in Oamaru.
Though he was unable to make off with anything of value, he caused $3350 of damage with a jemmy bar.
In July the crime spree ramped up.
McMillan entered a petrol station in Princes St, Dunedin wearing a hoodie, bandana and dark glasses and wielding a knife.
Despite his growing desperation for cash, he was not inclined to skip the queue.
He got into line behind a woman who was being served and made a hushing gesture to the cashier.
The staff member, thinking it was a prank, asked the woman if she knew McMillan.
"I told you to shut up — open the till," the defendant commanded.
But again, he fled with nothing when the cashier activated a fog cannon.
The thwarted robbery did not send McMillan rushing home, however, the court heard.
He stole $40 of fuel from a Mosgiel service station that night and thus began a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with police.
On July 24, McMillan performed a U-turn to avoid a police checkpoint in Gowland St and when officers gave chase, the defendant took outlandish steps to avoid arrest.
First he went the wrong way along Malcolm St, prompting police to abandon the chase, then witnesses reported him travelling at about 100kmh heading against the flow of traffic on the city's busy one-way system.
There was an almost identical set of circumstances 24 hours later as the defendant recklessly avoided a checkpoint in the same location.
And finally on July 26, he was pursued again after a patrol spotted the white Toyota in Andersons Bay Rd.
McMillan used similar tactics to give police the slip for the third time but his recklessness almost resulted in catastrophe.
"Police watched the defendant narrowly avoid having head-on collisions with at least two vehicles subsequent to the abandonment [of the pursuit]," a court summary said.
Several hours later, McMillan was finally collared at a house in North East Valley.
When police searched a "bum bag" he was wearing, they found 11 shotgun cartridges.
While McMillan had no explanation for the ammunition, he enlightened officers about his earlier driving conduct.
"The defendant stated he had a no-stop policy when referring to being chased by police," the summary said.
Judge Kevin Phillips called the driving "unbelievable".
McMillan was convicted of nine charges and disqualified from driving for two and a half years (beginning in November 2023).