Blitz snares Lower drivers

By EMMA CORNFORD

A DRINK-DRIVING blitz over two nights throughout the Clarence Valley included the pursuit and arrest of a 40-year-old Iluka man, allegedly carrying a knife, early on Friday morning.

Grafton Highway Patrol Senior Constable Bret Loveday said the man, identified in Grafton Local Court yesterday as Troy Ronald Fursman, was chased by police after he allegedly failed to stop for a random breath test.

Fursman, who works as a deckhand, allegedly drove through the streets of Iluka, often exceeding speeds of up to 130km/h, before leaving his car and forcing officers to pursue him on foot.

He was allegedly found to be carrying a knife.

"Initially he was pursued because he didn't stop at the RBT ... but after he was arrested it was found he had been disqualified from driving for a substantial period of time," Snr Const Loveday said.

Fursman was charged with a string of offences including driving while disqualified, driving in a dangerous manner, failing to stop at an RBT station, not keeping left and driving at speeds exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h. He was also charged with having custody of a knife in a public place.

Fursman, since Saturday, has been held at Grafton Police Station after bail was refused at the weekend.

He was further refused bail yesterday in the Grafton court.

There were nine other people charged during the drink-driving blitz, all living in the Clarence.

They include:

A 30-year-old Iluka woman, special range PCA.

A 34-year-old Iluka woman, mid-range PCA.

A 56-year-old Harwood man, mid-range PCA.

A 19-year-old Townsend man, low-range PCA.

A 65-year-old Yamba woman, mid-range PCA.

A Maclean man, mid-range PCA.

A Clarence Valley woman, mid-range PCA, unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured.

Snr Const Loveday said the result of the RTA-funded crackdown was disappointing.

"We commenced these operations last year because there were a high number of alcohol-related accidents; it was one of the highest in the State," he said. "There's been a marked improvement in Maclean but in Yamba and Iluka the rates are still abysmal."

Snr Const Loveday said the nine drink-drivers were caught out of 500 random breath tests, yet a 10-day blitz around Grafton during the Jacaranda Festival, which tested around 4500 drivers, resulted in the same number of charges.

"The results are always pre- dominantly locals ... but we don't know why. It's strange that the numbers are so high."

He said downriver would continue to be targeted over Christmas and New Year during Operation North Roads.

"We'll be starting the major holiday enforcement on December 9 and that will run until the end of January ... with police up from Sydney to bolster numbers and help us with that."



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