15 Dec 2010

9-year jail sentence over fatal police chase crash

6:07 pm on 15 December 2010

A man who killed two people when he crashed his car while being chased by police in Christchurch has been jailed for nine years.

Phillip Bannan, 22, was at twice the legal alcohol limit and driving at 82km/h in a residential area when he went through a red light and hit a car carrying marathon runners Norman Fitt and Deidre Jordan on 26 August this year.

Mr Fitt, 73, died instantly and Ms Jordan, 67, died on her way to hospital. They had been on their way to the gym when hit.

Bannan had pleaded guilty to two charges of manslaughter and on Wednesday the High Court in Christchurch sentenced him to nine years' jail with a five-and-a-half year non-parole period.

Police say Bannan started the night drinking a considerable amount of wine in Akaroa, before driving to central Christchurch where he was clocked by officers over the speed limit a residential area.

Bannan fled from police through two red lights before ploughing into the victims' vehicle, which flipped and spun some distance, the court was told.

The unemployed man had been disqualified from driving and said he was afraid of having his car confiscated because he did not have his licence on him.

Justice Panckhurst noted Bannan had a long criminal record, including two previous convictions for drink-driving.

The families of Mr Fitt and Ms Jordan read out victim impact statements which deplored Bannan's lack of remorse - a sentiment backed up by a pre-sentence report which said any attempts at remorse by Bannan were calculated and superficial.

The families say they support the police's pusuit policy.