28 August 2023

'He almost hit me': dangerous driver in three-wheeled car nearly runs down police officer

| Albert McKnight

Kevin Thomas Clarke, 43, will be sentenced next month. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A speeding driver who led police on a 14-minute chase through Canberra in a three-wheeled car told officers he’d taken a “bugger all” amount of meth after he was arrested and tested positive for drugs.

Kevin Thomas Clarke had been driving his Volkswagen Jetta in Belconnen around 2 am on 7 May 2022 when police tried to pull him over, but he refused to stop, court documents say.

While the officers lost sight of the car, he was soon seen speeding on Barry Drive and police gave chase but he again refused to stop for them.

A tyre deflation device was used to destroy his front left tyre in Civic, which then fell off entirely on Parkes Way.

When a police officer tried to deploy another such device on the road, Clarke drove straight towards him at 120 km/h, causing the officer to run and jump off the road.

“He almost hit me,” the officer said in body-worn camera footage shown to the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (28 August).

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Clarke continued onto Tuggeranong Parkway, driving at 160 km/h with sparks flying from his car’s bare front wheel. Pieces of metal fell off his car and hit the police vehicle that was chasing him.

He drove recklessly around streets in Kambah before stopping when he drove onto a green belt, then got out of his car and tried to run away. He was arrested after a short pursuit on foot.

He tested positive for having the presence of drugs in his system and admitted to officers that he had taken meth the previous day, but also said the amount had been “bugger all”.

He had been on bail over other offences at the time and was also a disqualified driver. In 2020, the ACT Magistrates Court disqualified his licence for over three years.

He was then in custody for about eight months before being granted bail over the police chase.

Clarke, who is expecting his fourth child later this year, told the court he had recently had surgery on his wrist and knee after coming off a dirtbike so was currently unable to work and was receiving welfare payments.

He also said he had been spending $300-$400 a week on meth before he had gone into custody.

His barrister, Travis Jackson, told the court that his client had been polite with staff from Corrective Services and “he’s not one of those offenders who has a toxic relationship with Corrections”.

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He argued his client had been sober for months and had good prospects of rehabilitation.

Mr Jackson said as Clarke was no longer taking drugs, he could afford Ubers as he now had a disposable income.

Justice Louise Taylor will sentence the 43-year-old in September.

He pleaded guilty to charges that included driving a motor vehicle at a police officer, dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, driving while disqualified and using an unregistered vehicle.

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