Slew of driving offences shocks judge

Jake Isaac Freeman grumbled that police had "stalked" him to investigate his "minor offending". A judge took a different view.

The 24-year-old Christchurch man was told by Judge Tony Couch that his "torrent" of disqualified driving offences was possibly going to land him back in jail for quite a stretch.

"Most judges would be starting with a very substantial sentence of imprisonment," Judge Couch told him as he pleaded guilty to 10 charges of driving while disqualified, as well as failing to stop for a patrol car using its lights and sirens, and failing to remain stopped.

He has six previous convictions for disqualified driving and has already served an 11-month jail term for that, and other offending.

Repeated disqualified driving offences — where there are more than two previous convictions — carry heavier penalties.

Counsel Todd Nicholls asked for Freeman to be remanded on bail pending his sentencing, which has been set for May 25.

Judge Couch said, "I have never in 17 years seen a torrent of offending like this in such a short space of time."

On June 30 last year, Freeman was disqualified from driving for six months.

Near the end of that period, on December 8, the police tried to stop him in Quinns Rd, Christchurch, but he accelerated away at speed when the patrol car’s flashing lights were switched on.

Once he was caught, it seems the police checked his bank card records and then went to the service stations where his bank card had been used, which gave them the dates and times of his visits.

The forecourt cameras showed him making repeated visits to fill up his BMW.

The police laid 22 charges based on the bank records, but only a few days ago they had to withdraw 12 of those because the service station photographic records for the older visits had already been deleted.

Photographs showing the defendant making 10 visits remained and were handed to his lawyer, and Freeman pleaded guilty to those charges.

He said he thought the police had "stalked" him to get the evidence, but Judge Couch was never going to accept his assertion that it was minor offending.

Mr Nicholls said Freeman had fulltime work, which would be put at risk if he was remanded in custody pending sentencing.

"The job gives him a belief in himself and doing something good for the world. I don’t believe imprisonment is by any means certain," he said.

He suggested Freeman had a driving addiction and could seek help with that.

"This is not minor offending," Judge Couch said.

"Each charge carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment. The starting point could be three or four years’ imprisonment. You are in very serious trouble here."

He said that although he was granting bail for sentencing, and was asking for a pre-sentence report that would also cover Freeman’s suitability for home detention, it was not an indication that he would not be jailed.

The police have also raised the question of confiscating the car involved in all the offending.



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