Otago Daily Times
Prison term for driver who sped from police
A MAN took police on a perilous highspeed chase through Dunedin because of an ‘‘unusual’’ affection for his car, his lawyer says.
Rory Travers Smyth (33) had been on parole for nearly a year and was doing well, counsel Nathan Laws told the Dunedin District Court.
However, on October 8 last year, police executed a search warrant in Mosgiel where they found stolen items in the defendant’s car.
Because of his state — suspected to be drug intoxication — he was forbidden from driving for 12 hours.
Later that morning, police saw Smyth in central Dunedin behind the wheel of his 2004 Audi Quattro.
When officers followed the defendant he accelerated through the Octagon, went the wrong way down Bath St and sped along George St at 100kmh.
Other motorists took evasive action as Smyth made his wild getaway, passing through several red lights.
He narrowly missed pedestrians at a crossing and made his way to State Highway 1 heading north.
At Waitati, reaching speeds of 120kmh, police deployed road spikes in a bid to end the dangerous pursuit.
Smyth took desperate measures to avoid having his tyres punctured, clipping a truck and nearly hitting a road worker.
It was a week before Smyth was found by police hiding in the back of a friend’s car. He was asked why he did not stop.
‘‘He said he had made changes in his life and that in Auckland they used to love doing this — chases and stuff in stolen cars,’’ a police summary said.
‘‘He said he had stayed clear of that, but the car was his life and the first thing he had basically legally owned. He said for 15 minutes he stepped back into old behaviours.’’
Mr Laws said Smyth had an ‘‘unusually high level of affection for his motor vehicle’’.
On the day of the incident, the defendant had attended a therapeutic session, something that had been helping his rehabilitation, Judge Michael Turner said.
‘‘Emotions were running high,’’ he said.
Given Smyth’s progress on parole, the judge imposed a sentence of eight months’ imprisonment but made it concurrent with the sentence he was currently serving for two aggravated robberies he committed nearly a decade ago.
‘‘I’m satisfied this offending might benevolently be viewed as an aberration,’’ he said.
Smyth was convicted on charges of receiving and two of dangerous driving and was banned from driving for a year.
His prison term ends in November 2022.