A 37-year-old man who led police on a high-speed pursuit across north Queensland with his three young children unrestrained in the car while he was high on methamphetamine and cannabis has received a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to the drug-fuelled chase, during which he drove on the wrong side of the road at speeds of up to 150 kilometres per hour from Townsville to Ingham in January.
The District Court in Townsville heard the man was in a delusional state and thought people were following him.
Crown prosecutor Dominique Orr told the court a blood test following the incident revealed the man was under the influence of methylamphetamines, amphetamines and cannabis.
She described the man’s driving record as “appalling”.
She said he stopped at the Ingham police station and told officers “someone is trying to steal my kids”.
After becoming agitated during that confrontation, the man drove away, then stopped at nearby fuel station.
Body camera vision from one of the officers pursuing him show they tried to get him to exit his car, but he kept driving, threatened to “blow them up” and later rammed his car into the police vehicle.
He also reversed his car into a glass panel at the petrol station.
Man used daughter as a shield
Ms Orr told the court the man used his five-year-old daughter, who had been sitting on his lap in the car, to shield himself from arrest.
By that time the young girl was screaming hysterically, the court heard.
After the man was detained, he yelled at his children to run away because he was afraid they could be murdered.
In handing down the sentence, Judge John Coker said the incident was a horrifying moment for a worker at the petrol station.
“The early hours of the 22nd of January will go down in your memory, and tragically the memory of your children, as be a date and time fixed in the memories,” Judge Coker said.
“It would appear you were certainly suffering the effects of those illicit substances … you chose to drive and endanger your children and other members of the community.”
Judge Coker also read out parts of a letter written by the man, asking for leniency.
“Grant me the chance to try and salvage what’s left of my family and my life,” the letter said.
Judge Coker said it was the longest letter of apology he had ever seen, but the punishment must reflect the great risk the man had posed to himself, his children and the wider community.
The man will be eligible for parole in March.