Monday, 15 Aug 2022

Police pursuit fatal crash: Driver was trying to hide car under blankets, witnesses say

Minutes after bicyclist Jamie Jameson was fatally hit by an erratic driver fleeing police, residents of a nearby West Auckland neighbourhood spotted a man placing blankets over a car with a smashed windscreen.

“I heard a car come down the next-door neighbour’s driveway at speed,” one witness said in a statement to police, explaining that the incident was strange enough that she stood up to look — and she continued to watch as the bizarre behaviour continued. “It was very loud. It caught my attention because of the noise.”

Crown prosecutors read the police statement aloud at the judge-alone trial of a 27-year-old man who they contend caused the December 2019 death of Jameson, a 39-year-old businessman who left behind a wife and son.

The defendant, who has chosen to represent himself, was granted name suppression at the start of the Auckland District Court trial before Judge Anna Skellern. He stands charged with failing to stop for police, failing to stop or ascertain injury after the cyclist was hit, receiving stolen property over $1000 and recklessly causing death.

Another witness, the husband of the woman who talked to police, said in a separate statement that the incident also stood out in his mind.

“It went in [the driveway] so fast I thought it may have hit the house,” he explained of the car. “I then noticed the windscreen was smashed.

“A male then got out of the driver’s door, came around the back of the vehicle and grabbed some blankets from the rubbish pile and covered the rear of the car. The male then went in the house and came out soon after with more blankets, which he used to cover the front of the car.”

The driver then grabbed a bag from the car, went inside and re-emerged minutes later wearing different clothes and sunglasses, he said.

The man’s wife told police she was suspicious enough that she tried to call police, but the line was busy. When she saw a police helicopter flying overhead, she waved her arms in an effort to direct it to the neighbour’s house, she said.

Both witnesses gave a general description of the driver that matched the defendant and the clothes he was arrested in, but neither indicated to police that they would be able to identify the man they saw.

The statements were read aloud by Crown prosecutor Sam McMullan two days after he started the trial by calling four witnesses to testify in person — including two constables who recalled the pursuit through residential streets in Massey, the subsequent crash and the vehicle speeding away. The vehicle was travelling at speeds up to 90km/h, sometimes on the wrong side of the road, the officers said.

Two motorists also recounted a vehicle speeding by with a broken windscreen.

Prosecutors are set to continue calling witnesses today.

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