Driving past a scene of flashing lights on Saturday morning north of Wellington, Vincent Patmore wondered what tragedy had unfolded.

Half an hour later he received the news no parent ever wants to hear.

His 15-year-old son Bailey Patmore had died only hours earlier in a car crash following a police pursuit, exactly where he had just driven past.

Now the grieving father is questioning why police pursued the small hatchback in which he was travelling, in the first place.


It comes as new figures from police show 40 people had died in crashes following police pursuits since 2012, including six so far this year.

Bailey, from Cannons Creek in Porirua, was travelling with five other passengers in a small hatchback and had squeezed into the boot.

The vehicle had been spotted by police speeding north on State Highway 1, near the Terrace in Wellington, shortly before 3am.

It had been reported stolen from Petone the night before, and an officer gave chase when the car failed to stop.

The other passengers - four teenagers and one 21-year-old, all received minor injuries in the crash on SH1 south of the Tawa off-ramp.

Bailey Patmore, 15, of Cannons Creek in Porirua, died in the early hours of Saturday morning after a crash following a police pursuit. Photo / supplied
Bailey Patmore, 15, of Cannons Creek in Porirua, died in the early hours of Saturday morning after a crash following a police pursuit. Photo / supplied

"[Bailey] chose to hop into a stolen car, and the driver decided not to pull over, but I am concerned about the incident, and want to ask the question, when is a chase considered high risk?" Patmore said.

"And when do they decide to abandon the chase?

"They said they only saw five people in the car. How can you not see someone sitting in the boot of a small hatchback, and what kind of speed were they going?


"We have been left in the dark so far about the incident.

"This is not the first [fatal pursuit], and it won't be the last if this carries on."

Patmore said Bailey, a student at Porirua College, had been in "the wrong place at the wrong time".

"He was a good kid and had a big heart."

Bailey had a big family, Patmore said.

"He helped out at his house with all his little brothers and sisters, and looked up to his oldest brother.

"He got into a bit of mischief, not serious mischief, just as teenagers do.

"He didn't go out to steal cars. It was just the wrong night with the wrong guys."


He didn't go out to steal cars. It was just the wrong night with the wrong guys.


The family were all taking it pretty hard, he said.

"It has hit us all pretty hard. For his siblings - what you would expect losing a brother.

"Just one of those things you don't want to believe."

They were waiting on a coroner's report before making any funeral arrangements, but expected it would take place Friday.

There would be a Serious Crash Unit investigation and internal police investigation into the incident, while the Independent Police Conduct Authority had been notified.

Mother's tribute

Bailey's mother, Kelly McKnight, said the teen's "sudden and tragic" death had been a "huge shock" for his whanau.

"Bailey was a loving son, stepson, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend," she said.

"He certainly touched many people's lives in his short life.

"Bailey was fun–loving, caring, lovable and cheeky. He was dearly loved by us all.

"The whanau have gathered in support and sadness to help ease the burden of such a huge loss. Thank you to the many people who have offered help, kai, koha, support, love and kind words. It is greatly appreciated."

IPCA to decide future of high-speed chases

Bailey's death, along with five others which occurred after police pursuits this year, has spiked calls for a hastened review on pursuit policy and a potential outright ban on chases.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority is currently undertaking a review of the policy, but it is not expected to release a report until October or November. The review is the seventh on the policy in 20 years.

Police Minister Stuart Nash spoke on Radio New Zealand this morning and said he supported the review, but did not believe a ban on police pursuits was the right answer.

"I am of the belief that we don't end police chases. To say to police to never chase I think is the wrong thing to do," he said.

"Then there would be a whole lot of people who would know they just need to put their foot down and they're away scot-free. I don't think that is the right approach."

Nash said he believed traffic offences, which impel most pursuits, are a serious enough offence to warrant these potentially life threatening chases.

"Police cannot just look the other way when they come across serious offending on the roads," he said.

Police cannot just look the other way when they come across serious offending on the roads.

"All police are expected to take action if they witness unsafe behaviour on our roads.

"But if they think there is any danger to the community or the person driving the car, they will pull back, there is no doubt about that."

Nash said a number of bad decisions factored into Saturday's incident.

"Firstly they stole a car, there were five in the car, the person who died was in the boot and when they saw the officer and knew they were in trouble, he put his foot down and booted it and it ended really badly.

"We have to ask, is a stolen car travelling at speed a serious offence? – I don't think in this case the officer should have said 'oh well, it's only a stolen car travelling at 150km/h let's just leave it, it will be ok'."

Despite his stance on banning pursuits, Nash said he was happy to review the findings of the IPCA report when it was released.

"If a whole lot of experts say we have got to do things different than we are, then I will certainly take notice of that and be talking to the commissioner to see what we need to do or if we need to change anything," he said.

Bid to replicate international police chase policy

Automobile Association motoring policy spokesman Mike Noon said it also did not support an outright ban on police pursuits, but believed the IPCA and Police should look into alternative policies used in Australia.

"Places like Tasmania and Queensland follow a different model where they won't pursue unless there is immediate threat to life," he said.

"Since this policy was introduced in Queensland, no one has died following a pursuit, whereas we have lost six lives already this year.

"We think it is about time to look at the evidence and experience in these places and see if it can be implemented here."

Noon also questioned why the review was taking so long to conduct, and whether there was much else that could be changed in the existing policy after previous reviews.

IPCA Judge Colin Doherty said he hoped this review would be the most comprehensive of the seven others undertaken in previous years.

"It remains to be seen what we come up with. Hopefully it will enable us to better identify changes to policy or practice that are required," he said.

"I can't speak for what has happened before, I can only hope that this review will have a significant result."

National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally said fleeing drivers put themselves, staff, and the public at risk.

"Police have to balance protecting the public from dangerous driving behaviour and the potential for the offending driver to take greater risks.

"Every situation is different and our staff have to make split second decisions in demanding circumstances," he said.

"Police staff always assess the risk of pursuing fleeing drivers, and take every decision very seriously, and continually reassess the risk throughout the incident."

He said the review gives police the opportunity to examine common themes and issues collectively, rather than looking at incidents in isolation.

"The one thing we want everybody to understand, is if they're signalled to stop by police, they should pull over and stop.

"It is not worth putting your life, your passenger's life, or anyone else's life at risk."