A DISQUALIFIED driver who went out to get cigarettes before leading police on a high speed pursuit through a school zone has been jailed for 12 months.
Magistrate Michael Holmes castigated Nicholas John Lawford for his “appalling” behaviour when he sped through the busy school zone at 130km per hour to try and escape police.
“A very tragic set of circumstances could have arisen on that day,” Magistrate Holmes told Tamworth Local Court this week.
“The driving was very, very dangerous to the community.”
The 23-year-old’s licence was disqualified until March 2015, but Lawford’s solicitor Patrick Carter said his client “panicked” when police spotted him behind the wheel about 8.15am on May 7.
“They are extremely serious,” Mr Carter said of the facts.
“It occurred in a school zone, it involved a panicked response to escape police.”
Lawford was driving along Kathleen St when Oxley highway patrol officers tried to pull him over for a random breath test.
Police said Lawford sped off before police gave chase but it was called off soon after because of safety concerns when he drove through a school zone at 130km an hour – more than triple the posted speed limit.
The court was told Lawford, who was supported by family in court, had only moved to Tamworth in March this year.
Mr Carter said Lawford’s traffic and criminal record were “against him” but he had “turned over a new leaf.”
“It was that stupid,” he told the court, adding Lawford had expressed extreme remorse. Magistrate Holmes said Lawford completely ignored his disqualification warranting a serious penalty.
“What would the community of Tamworth say?” he said.
“He has been given a lot of chances before.”
Lawford, who has been in custody since the chase, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, police pursuit and exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km an hour before a driving in a manner dangerous charge was withdrawn.
“You were driving through a school zone at significant speed,” Magistrate Holmes said.
“You put people at risk in the community.”
He disqualified Lawford from driving again.