Stolen motorbike ridden at 200km/h tracked by police helicopter

Stolen motorbike ridden at 200km/h tracked by police helicopter

Guilty plea: The police helicopter tracked a motorbike as it was ridden at speeds of up to 200km/h, a court has heard.
Photo by
Rodney Braithwaite

A man was seen riding a stolen motorbike at speeds of up to 200km/h while he was being followed by the police helicopter, a court has heard.

Luke Pearce, 32, of Bunbartha pleaded guilty in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court to reckless conduct endangering serious injury, dangerous driving while pursued by police, theft of a vehicle and unlicensed driving.

He is also charged with two counts of drug driving, two more counts of unlicensed driving, driving while disqualified and speeding by between 10km/h and 25km/h from other separate incidents.

Prosecutor Senior Constable Luke Lund told the court Pearce was spotted on a stolen 400cc Yamaha R4 motorbike with no number plates on Wyndham St, Shepparton at 11.02pm on September 26, 2020.

The same motorbike was seen by another police car on the Midland Hwy being ridden at about 160km/h in a 100km/h zone towards Mooroopna.

The court heard the Police Air Wing started following the motorbike on Macisaac Rd, Mooroopna, and continued to follow for about 80km until the rider stopped in Katunga.

The motorbike reached speeds of up to 200km/h as it headed towards Waaia, Sen Constable Lund said.

It then stopped briefly at a Waaia property before continuing at high speeds, again reaching 200km/h as it was ridden through Katunga.

The Police Air Wing reported another four or five motorists on the road during the journey.

The motorbike eventually came to a stop at a Katunga house as Pearce rode it into dense scrub before going inside.

Police swooped and arrested Pearce at 12.10am.

The court heard the motorbike was stolen from a Broadmeadows home on January 22 or 23, 2020.

Sen Constable Lund said Pearce told police “he believed the Yamaha was likely stolen”, as he had bought it for $1500 from a person in a van.

When asked by police whether he saw any of the police cars trying to get him to stop, or the helicopter, Pearce said he “saw one police car and thought, I’ve got to get out of here”, Sen Constable Lund said.

The court also heard that in a separate incident, Pearce was picked up driving without a licence and drug driving, with methamphetamines in his system, on Shepparton-Barmah Rd at Shepparton on January 3 last year.

Two months earlier he was stopped by police on the same road for speeding at 115km/h in a 100km/h zone while unlicensed and drug driving.

In yet another incident, on September 23, 2019, Pearce was caught driving on Collett St, Shepparton, on a licence that had been disqualified.

Pearce’s solicitor Luke Slater asked that his client not be jailed, and instead be sentenced to a community corrections order, saying there had been a significant amount of time since his last offence, that Pearce had voluntarily taken himself to the Court Integrated Support Program to get help and he had maintained contact with his psychologist.

Mr Slater argued that riding a motorcycle at 200km/h was “different to driving a car”.

“A motorbike does not impose the same risk,” he said.

He also said Pearce reduced his speed “significantly” as he overtook other motorists, and that he had not ridden a motorbike since that night.

Magistrate Tara Hartnett, however, jailed Pearce for three months in a sentence that was immediately appealed by the defence.

“He was riding at the speed of light,” Ms Hartnett said.

“It was an extraordinary speed for an extraordinary distance where he is followed by the Air Wing.

“The risks you posed not only for yourself but for other people on the road is extraordinary.

“It’s a miracle really that it all didn’t come unstuck.

“At that speed no-one is able to anticipate the speed of a motorbike coming towards them.”

As well as sentencing Pearce to three months in jail, Ms Hartnett fined him $1300 and cancelled his driver’s licence for 12 months.

Mr Slater immediately appealed the sentence and successfully applied for bail, meaning Pearce is free until his appeal is heard.

Stolen motorbike ridden at 200km/h tracked by police helicopter

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