NSW police  highway patrol car. 07 October 2016
NSW police highway patrol car. 07 October 2016 Trevor Veale

Driver behind drug-fuelled pursuits faces court

GRIEF-stricken after seeing his dying father for the final time and fuelled on a cocktail of methamphetamine and cocaine, Reece Gregory Clark just wanted to get away from his problems.

However, after failing to pay at a Grafton petrol station while he was on his way to Queensland, he led police on a series of high-speed pursuits and rammed through police blockades until he was finally captured.

Clark, 25, was sentenced in Grafton Local Court this week after pleading guilty to 14 charges, which included police pursuit, operating a vehicle to intimidate/harass, driving recklessly/furiously in a dangerous manner and resisting arrest.

According to agreed facts tendered to court, on May 4 this year police at Ulmarra spotted Clark in a black ute matching the description of a car that had been filled up at a South Grafton petrol station and driven away without payment.

At 11.35am a highway patrol car pulled the ute over, but it sped off as police approached on foot.

Over the next three hours, Clark led police on three high-speed pursuits as he attempted to avoid capture and reached speeds of more than 200km/h as police were forced to terminate the pursuits due to public safety concerns.

After fleeing from Ulmarra and heading north as far as the intersection of Yamba Rd and North Bank Rd, Clark returned to the highway and travelled south. Police eventually managed to deploy road spikes at Glenugie, which had only partial effect, before the pursuit was again terminated.

Clark was cornered in the Florda Dr ring-road system but managed to ram a police car, which had formed a blockade, and flee to Tucabia, where he collided with another police car and crashed into a ditch.

In Grafton Local Court, Clark's defence solicitor said her client was genuinely remorseful for his actions, which had taken place after he had visited his father - who was dying of mesothelioma - in Woolongong.

She said Clark had been emotional and was on his way to visit family in Queensland when he ran out of petrol and had no money to pay for fuel, so decided to leave without paying to continue north.

Clark was deeply apologetic to the community, his solicitor said, and didn't realise he had hit another car until after he was arrested.

Magistrate Jeff Linden said Clark's conduct was "absolutely outrageous" and that he placed himself, the police and the public at grave risk during the pursuit.

Clark was sentenced to 15 months' jail with a non-parole period of six months and disqualified from driving for two years.