Sentenced driver hit 200kmh in Pac Highway pursuit

A DISQUALIFIED driver who painted his car bright blue to evade police attention has pleaded guilty to a series of high-speed police pursuits through the Clarence Valley between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Luke Atkinson, from Woodburn, appeared before Grafton Local Court on Monday faced with three police pursuit charges, driving dangerously or recklessly, and driving while disqualified.

According to police facts, the first pursuit took place near Clarenza after officers detected a maroon Ford Falcon with false registration plates travelling north on the Pacific Highway.

When the driver failed to stop officers gave chase, but terminated the pursuit when the driver of the Falcon reached speeds upwards of 150kmh

It appears, however, the car's speed only increased from there.

Police allege a second brief pursuit on the highway at Maclean two hours later reached speeds upwards of 190kmh, with the driver crossing to the incorrect side of the road and narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with several cars.

The next time it came to the attention of police was about 2.30pm on New Year's Eve, when highway patrol officers detected a bright blue Ford Falcon with a mismatched set of QLD and NSW registration plates travelling south on the Pacific Hwy at Tyndale.

Police allege the car reached estimated speeds of more than 200kmh and again moved into the path of oncoming traffic before the pursuit was terminated.

The vehicle was later found abandoned in Ulmarra, and with assistance from the public 28-year-old Atkinson arrested on foot in King St.

Police said on closer inspection, it was clear the dumped vehicle had been painted bright blue with a paintbrush, with hints of the original maroon colour underneath. It was seized for examination, as well as goods and property found in the car.

It was noted in the police facts that all of the pursuits took place during peak holiday times, and it was stated that "it is astonishing that innocent members of the community were not killed."

Records show Atkinson was disqualified from driving until 2020.

The Clarence Valley-related matters have been adjourned to Cessnock Local Court for mention on January 20.

Atkinson will also face Newcastle District Court, in relation to a warrant for prior alleged offences including an aggravated break and enter, stealing a motor vehicle and facilitating a car re-birth operation.



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