16 Feb 2017

No conviction over officer's waterfront police chase

5:14 pm on 16 February 2017

A police officer who pursued a fleeing motorist in a dramatic chase along Wellington's waterfront will escape conviction.

The senior officer, whose name is supressed, appeared in the Wellington District Court to face a dangerous driving charge.

A pedestrian area along Wellington's waterfront.

A pedestrian area on Wellingtons waterfront (file). The police car and the vehicle it was chasing drove off the street and onto the waterfront. Photo: 123RF

The court was told that last April he had seen a car driven by someone who was wanted for stealing radar detectors.

The driver was able to turn on to the main wharf near Frank Kitts park as a bollard was down, and the officer turned his sirens on and followed.

He pursued the car all the way to TSB Arena on the other side of the waterfront.

The court was told the police crash investigation team determined the officer had driven at an average speed of 39 km/h.

The officer had told his communications team he was following the driver onto the wharf, and was not told to stop.

The officer believed following with his lights and sirens on would warn people to move out of the way.

No one was injured in the incident.

Judge Stephen Harrop said there was danger caused by the chase, but that it had to be assessed in the context of the officer's job.

"You were driving not only without the [intention of being dangerous], but with the opposite intention," he said.

"You are obviously an officer with excellent prospects in the police and you've been promoted more quickly than most, you've had an unblemished career and a conviction could wrongly impair your career."

Judge Harrop told the officer if he entered a guilty plea, he would be discharged without conviction.

The officer entered a guilty plea, and will be discharged on 1 March, when a review of his name suppression will also take place.

The fleeing driver, Jason Gregory, was charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, and two charges of stealing radar detectors.

He was jailed for five months, and his passenger, Steven Kells, was given a short sentence of home detention and ordered to do community work, also for the theft of radar detectors.