'I wasn't the driver' says chase accused

AN OXLEY Vale man charged over a dangerous police pursuit will remain behind bars despite telling the court he wasn’t the one behind the wheel.

William James Murdoch, 28, maintains he was a passenger in the Maxima when it took off from pursuing police and led officers on a chase through the streets of South and West Tamworth on Friday night.

Solicitor for the accused, Fiona Hadlington, said her client “certainly does run and go into other persons’ yards,” but was heading home to fix up the car with a friend.

“He says he was in the passenger seat ... he says he was not the driver,” she said in Tamworth Local Court yesterday.

“He has provided me who the driver was.”

Murdoch was captured by police hiding in the cubby house of a Wise St home just before 10 o’clock on Friday night after the vehicle he was allegedly driving collided with a rural fence at a dead end in Hilton St.

Police allege Murdoch ran from the scene and a perimeter was established before he was captured.

Murdoch has pleaded guilty to entering inclosed lands but will fight the rest of the charges of driving while disqualified, police pursuit, driving recklessly or in a speed or manner dangerous, exceeding the speed limit, driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle and possessing cannabis.

Ms Hadlington said her client had been living in Tamworth for about eight months, despite links to Queensland.

“His family is here, his partner is here, his kids are here,” she said.

But police prosecutor Rob Baillie opposed bail arguing it was a strong prosecution case and Murdoch was a flight risk.

“If he’s granted bail today there is no guarantee he would turn up on the next occasion,” he said.

“These are very serious matters before the court.”

Magistrate Robert Rabbidge said if found guilty of the offences, Murdoch could face a term of imprisonment.

“Extraordinary course of driving,” which he added had resulted in a number of charges.

“The prosecution case appears strong, if not overwhelming.”

Murdoch was on bail at the time to be of good behaviour, but Magistrate Rabbidge said “clearly on his own admission” of entering inclosed lands, he had not been of good behaviour.

“I’d be derelict to my duty to grant him bail. Bail is refused,” Mr Rabbidge told the court.

The case has been adjourned to next month.


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