Drug run: Meth addict rammed police cars twice during high-speed chase

A driver high on methamphetamine led police on a chase from Gisborne to Matawai, reaching speeds of 150km/h an hour and twice stopping to reverse-ram patrol cars, Gisborne District Court heard.

William Thomas Sheridan, 30, was sentenced yesterday by Judge Turitea Bolstad to two years, seven months in prison on charges to which he previously pleaded guilty – possession of methamphetamine for supply, two counts of assault with a blunt weapon (a car), reckless driving, failing to stop and driving while disqualified for a third or subsequent time.

The pursuit, on July 7 last year, started on Ormond Rd.

Police signalled for Sheridan to stop but he sped off, driving at up to 150km/h on State Highway 2, sometimes crossing the centre line and intermittently turning off his lights in an effort to lose his pursuers.

An oncoming car had to take evasive action.

At one point, Sheridan stopped in the middle of the highway and reversed at speed towards a patrol car behind him, which also had to take evasive action.

He continued on ahead, turning into a side road, again stopping and reversing at speed, this time hitting a patrol car, which had stopped because of the dangerous situation.

Sheridan took off ahead again and was finally stopped after police used a patrol car to force his vehicle from the road.

During the pursuit he was seen discarding items out of his car window.

When stopped, Sheridan was found with 30g of methamphetamine – more than the presumptive amount for supply – in six bags. He claimed it was for personal use.

Counsel Alistair Clarke said the offending was all because of Sheridan’s serious drug addiction, particularly to meth. It was evidenced by supporting documents provided to the court, including from an addictions practitioner.

Sheridan was remorseful and wanted to address his drug use, Clarke said.

Sentence starting points submitted by Clarke and the Crown were similar, albeit reached through different approaches.

Judge Bolstad adopted Clarke’s approach.

Jailed for 2 years, 7 months

She set a starting point of three years’ imprisonment for the possession for supply charge, uplifting it by 10 months for the assault with a weapon charges and by a further six months for the remaining driving charges.

An adjustment for totality (four months’ reduction) was followed by an uplift of three months to reflect Sheridan’s previous relevant convictions and offending while on bail.

Sheridan’s recent previous relevant convictions included for driving while disqualified, careless driving, possession of cannabis for supply, cultivation of cannabis, possession of cannabis and possession of drug utensils.

Discounts totalling 35 per cent were applied for Sheridan’s guilty pleas (25 per cent), remorse and personal circumstances, resulting in the end sentence of two years, seven months’ imprisonment.

Clarke asked the judge to consider backdating mandatory driving disqualifications to when Sheridan entered his pleas and was convicted.

Sheridan was a self-employed possum trapper and farrier, for which his skills were held in high regard, Clarke said.

A driving ban would affect Sheridan’s ability to get to work sites and ultimately his rehabilitation, to which his employment would be crucial.

Crown counsel Lara Marshall argued public protection was a competing interest, which must take precedence.

Sheridan should not be allowed back behind the wheel any sooner than he should be.

The disqualifications could be imposed concurrently, which would make the duration of them shorter but they should not start sooner than this sentencing, Marshall said.

Judge Bolstad agreed. While she wanted to encourage and support Sheridan to stay off drugs and get back to work, she also had to consider the public interest, she said.

The judge imposed the disqualifications concurrently – for 12 months until next December.

In other submissions, Clarke noted Sheridan would be eligible for parole soon.

While now drug-free, it was because he was in a controlled environment.

Sheridan would need the assistance of some form of community drug rehabilitation programme to maintain that status, Clarke said.

Judge Bolstad agreed to record the requirement in her sentencing notes for reference by the parole board.

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