Jail for police pursuit
AN UNLICENSED man who led police on a high-speed chase with three children under three in the back seat has been jailed for 18 months.
Benjamin Croft, 21, appeared via video link from Sydney's Parklea prison to be sentenced in relation to the pursuit, which began at Woodburn on May 2 and reached speeds of more than 215kmh before ending near Harwood when he crashed into a silver Toyota Prado four wheel drive.
The court heard Croft "sourced" the stolen black Ford Mondeo he was driving from a friend in Brisbane to transport his then partner and her three youngest children to a funeral in NSW.
Croft's Legal Aid defence solicitor Rachael Thomas said when her client was pulled over for a random breath test he realised he was wanted for breaching parole in Queensland so he sped off and police initiated a pursuit.
Ms Thomas argued her client had a dysfunctional upbringing and was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father.
She also detailed his extensive drug use which began when he was 13 and his extensive time in custody as a juvenile.
The court heard Croft first used alcohol at 13, cannabis at 14 and ecstasy and speed at 15.
He spent three quarters of the year when he was 17, and half a year when he was 18, in custody.
In sentencing Croft, Magistrate R Denes said "he has spent almost half his life in and out of custody."
She said Croft's offences were "incredibly serious, involving incredibly high speeds with three children in the car".
"It beggars belief in these times that someone would travel on the wrong side of the highway with three children in the back of the car at 200km/h," she said.
Ms Denes noted nobody was injured in the collision with the Toyota Prado, which had also contained two children.
She sentenced Croft to nine months jail on the charge of reckless driving and 18 months on each count of receiving stolen property and not stopping in a police pursuit.
As he is wanted for breaching his parole, Croft was expected to face an extradition hearing by Queensland prosecutors after serving his NSW sentence.