DITCHED: Mathew Smith was arrested after he crashed while attempting to navigate a corner at Halfway Creek.
DITCHED: Mathew Smith was arrested after he crashed while attempting to navigate a corner at Halfway Creek.

Law catches up with runaway

A VICTORIAN man, whose week-long crime spree ended with his road-spiked stolen car in a ditch beside the Pacific Hwy at Halfway Creek, has escaped jail time.

Mathew Russell Smith, 41, of Torquay, pleaded guilty to six charges, including a Skye's Law charge involving a police pursuit, when he appeared before magistrate Robyn Denes in Grafton Local Court on Monday.

Smith came under notice of local police on Saturday when he failed to pay for $72.02 worth of petrol in Coffs Harbour.

An unmarked police car detected Smith's car and followed it north on the Pacific Hwy until more police resources became available.

Near Halfway Creek, a marked police car used its siren and lights to get Smith to pull over. When he saw police approach and they asked him to get out of the car, he accelerated harshly and drove off.

Police initiated a pursuit in which Smith's car was clocked at 170kmh.

About 2km north of Lemon Tree Rd, police deployed road spikes, which crippled the vehicle but did not stop it.

Shortly after, the car crashed while attempting a left turn into Kungala Rd.

In a record of interview, Smith told police he was attempting to put on shoes and socks while driving during the chase so he could try to escape on foot.

He had also stashed a 28g bag of cannabis down the front of his pants at the same time.

He also told police he was "running away" and was aiming to move to Queensland where he could live at a subsistence level.

The police said Smith's lawbreaking began in Haberfield, Victoria, on October 12 when he stole a black Nissan Murano and $1350 cash from family members before hitting the road.

His next stop was Goulburn, where he stayed for three nights at a motel, checking in under a false name.

He paid $316 cash for the accommodation but packed $600 worth of bedclothes from the room into the stolen car.

When police inspected the car after it crashed near Halfway Creek, the back seats had been laid back and bedclothes spread out to form a bed.

Smith faced charges of failure to pay for petrol, possession of property stolen in another state, possessing a prohibited drug, being involved in a police pursuit (Skye's Law), larceny, and disposing of stolen goods.

Magistrate Denes sentenced Smith to a nine-month suspended jail sentence, placed him on a nine-month good behaviour bond and disqualified him from driving for three years.



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