Jailed fugitive fails in sentence appeal

Robert Laxon during his appearance in the Dunedin District Court in June.PHOTO ROB KIDD
Robert Laxon during his appearance in the Dunedin District Court in June.PHOTO ROB KIDD
A Dunedin man who spent months on the run before ramming a police car and being bitten by a dog has failed in his appeal.

Robert Paul Laxon (36) was jailed for two years and 10 months when he appeared before the Dunedin District Court in June on two charges of unlawfully taking a vehicle, burglary, attempted burglary, reckless driving and failing to stop for police.

The case had a protracted progression through court with the defendant attempting to withdraw some of his guilty pleas at one point.

Judge Kevin Phillips declined that application.

In the High Court at Dunedin last month, Laxon's counsel Deborah Henderson argued that the ruling was incorrect and that the sentence imposed with a reparation order for $7319 was excessive.

Laxon was spotted by police on September 2 last year, after being on the run for almost five months.

They tried to pull the fugitive over, but he drove on at speeds as high as 140kmh, using private driveways to hide.

One patrol unit attempted to block Laxon's exit when he went down a dead-end street but the defendant forced his escape, shunting the police car aside as he did so.

As he fled, he consistently veered on to the wrong side of the road, including on a blind corner.

The car chase ended when he sped through an intersection and smashed the undercarriage of his vehicle on the road.

Undeterred, Laxon left the scene on foot before a police dog took him down.

The High Court heard the man sustained lacerations and puncture wounds as a result of a bite to the lower left leg and a contusion to a nerve, leaving his foot numb.

Laxon twice went into the operating theatre for cleaning of the wound, assessment of nerve damage and a skin graft.

Ms Henderson argued there were errors of process in the way her client's bid to vacate his guilty pleas was heard.

She also submitted that Laxon was prescribed large doses of the painkiller Tramadol when he originally pleaded guilty to the charges, which could have impaired his judgement.

However, Justice Gerald Nation considered medical notes from the day the defendant admitted the crimes, which stated he was feeling well at that point.

``There is no reason to think that Mr Laxon would have been overawed or confused by the court process. Given his record of previous offending, it must have been sadly familiar to him.''

He also pointed to a letter the recidivist burglar had written to the court.

``Mr Laxon described his unfortunate background, explained how he had come to live `a life of criminal offending' and said how much he regretted his offending and wanted to say sorry for it,'' Justice Nation said.

``There was no suggestion in that letter that he thought, at that time, he was not guilty of any of the offending for which he was then due to be sentenced.''

There was no miscarriage of justice, the High Court judge ruled, nor was the sentence manifestly excessive.