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12 months disqualification after high speed checkpoint escape

Monday 29 August 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Court, National

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A man who sped away from a police checkpoint has had his licence disqualified for 12 months, and has been fined by the Courts.

Miimetua Brown, 20, appeared before Justice of the Peace Vania Kenning in the Criminal Court in Avarua on Thursday. He pleaded guilty to failing to stop on demand, dangerous driving, and refusing to undergo a breathalyzer test.

According to the summary of facts, the incidents took place in March 2020, after Brown had been consuming alcohol at nightclubs with friends.

“After the nightclubs closed at midnight on March 14, 2020, the defendant and his friends jumped into a black Toyota Hilux double cap pick up truck with the defendant as the driver,” the summary says.

“The defendant drove the pickup from the nightclub, coming around the roundabout through town and taking the side road at the Energy Centre heading towards the Vodafone through Tutakimoa, and continued towards the backroad intersection to drop off his friends in Avatiu.”

Unbeknownst to the defendant, a police checkpoint was already set up on the backroad intersections in Tutakimoa targeting drunk drivers.

Brown was stopped at the checkpoint, after it was noticed that he and his two passengers had recently consumed alcohol. Brown was then asked to undergo a screening test for breath alcohol.

“While in the process of the screening test, the defendant without warning the police officer, stepped on the accelerator and fled off from the police checkpoint at high speed, refusing to remain at the place while he was processed to undergo a breathalyzer screen test,” the summary says.

“The defendant almost ran over the officer processing the breathalyzer test and the officer manning the checkpoint on the road. It was fortunate the officers managed to avoid the truck hitting them on the road.”

The police officers called out and demanded Brown to stop his pickup truck several times, but he continued speeding off with his friends through the backroad heading towards Avatiu.

“As the defendant sped pass Pickering Motors Ltd, the officers saw the lightings from the defendant’s truck switched off, and dangerously continued speeding through the backroad in the dark without any lights operating,” the summary says.

Brown was later brought to the police station, where he admitted the facts as outlined.

He also explained to police that he fled off because he was scared the police would confiscate the truck.

Defence Counsel Tai Nicholas acknowledged the offences would likely come with a mandatory disqualification period.

However, he asked the JP to consider some relaxations of the disqualification terms to allow him to drive to and from work.

Nicholas said Brown’s early guilty plea and the fact it was his first appearance in Court also needed to be considered.

On all charges, JP Vanning fined Brown $350, ordered him to pay $150 in Court costs, and disqualified him from holding a driver’s licence for 12 months.