Off-duty officer helps apprehend man

No-one was injured in the crash. Photo: ODT files
No-one was injured in the crash. Photo: ODT files

An off-duty Dunedin police officer out for a run got a little more exercise than he planned after following a hunch, a court has heard.

Dunedin scaffolder Shannon Paul Harrington (40) was driving north on State Highway 1 on May 20.

Exceeding the speed limit, he wove in and out of traffic at the Caversham bypass.

The dangerous manoeuvres came to an abrupt end when Harrington clipped the rear bumper of a car.

The victim was able to stop safely but the defendant lost control, smashing into a concrete barrier.

Harrington was in no mood to hang around and swap details.

He fled on foot but did not account for the off-duty police officer, who was in the area exercising.

The officer had heard the crash and later spotted the man running.

"Acting on a hunch", the court heard, he gave chase.

As he tailed Harrington, the officer called police communications to direct back-up to the scene.

Harrington was finally stopped at the corner of Andersons Bay Rd and Colston St.

Hearing the sirens approach, he threw away his cellphone.

It was later found by police.

Harrington initially told them he was not involved in the crash, but his phone told a different story.

He had messaged an associate while fleeing the crash, telling them he had been travelling at 200kmh and asking to be picked up from "the teeth" on Portsmouth Dr.

After being unco-operative with police, Harrington eventually caved.

He admitted to driving at high speed and said he was scared after the crash.

The victim - a young university student - sustained a sore leg, neck and back with subsequent headaches, but was not admitted to hospital.

In a statement, she wrote that she was now nervous when behind the wheel and was "dumbfounded" by the defendant's behaviour.

Harrington emerged from the episode physically unscathed but the Ford Mondeo he was driving was written off.

Counsel Ann Leonard said her client had no driving convictions since 2007 and was remorseful.

Community Magistrate Simon Heale banned Harrington from driving for nine months and ordered him to pay $500 to the victim.

 


 

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