May 29, 2003


The Sydney Morning Herald blames the police:

John Wai Keung Lau, the latest innocent victim of a high-speed police pursuit in NSW, didn't have a chance. Like too many others killed in similar circumstances, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The 48-year-old family man died in a head-on collision involving a utility whose driver police wanted to breath-test and who was being chased at speeds up to 110 kmh through residential streets.

It was a tragic outcome to a high-pressure decision all too often made by a police driver.

All the copís fault. Nothing to do with the guy they were chasing, of course. Who, it turns out, had given his pursuers the slip at the time of the fatal accident:

After another seven blocks, the patrol car was travelling at 110 kmh and the utility was pulling away. Past Hawksview Street, the patrol car got stuck behind a car which was overtaken by the utility. Police lost sight of their quarry. The utility continued north along Fowler, crossing Merrylands Road into residential Burnett Street.

Three blocks away, Mr Lau was on his way home after working as a chef in a Chinese restaurant. He drove his Nissan sedan around a curve, heading south along Burnett. Death was on him in an instant.

The driver, not the police, has been charged with manslaughter. The SMH clearly believes this to be an injustice.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 29, 2003 12:54 PM

"Death was on him in an instant."

Sheesh, Philip Cornford. If you really are under the illusion that this is a Poetry 101 exercise rather than a newspaper, why not go all the way?

"And lo, time's winged chariot did hasten near,
and one noble soul did break from this mortal sphere,
to ne'er see sun nor moon, nor Margo Kingston again."

Exeunt weeping

Andrew D.

Posted by: Andrew D. at May 29, 2003 at 03:05 PM

The SMH doesn't "clearly believe" anything of the sort... if you read the whole story. Which is about police being able to use road spikes to end pursuits. Could do better: F.

Posted by: Bon Scott at May 29, 2003 at 03:38 PM

Nice selective quoting Tim. How about this as a Blair-esque counter argument:

Fifty fatal traffic tickets:

"Mr Lau was the 50th person to die because of such a pursuit since 1990. Eight were innocent civilians, one was a policeman.

The rest of the deaths were offenders, most of whom were suspected of traffic crimes or car theft - for which the most common penalty is a fine."

Nearly ninety percent of people pursued were only guilty of speeding!?:

"But only 14 per cent of 2291 pursuits last year involved suspected criminals, with 233 - slightly more than one in 10 - ending in accidents. In one-in-five of the crashes, police were found to have been at fault."

Fourteen percent real crims!? Definitely a policy worth pursuing.

Posted by: Aidan at May 29, 2003 at 03:54 PM

What are "crims"?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 29, 2003 at 04:21 PM

Ooh, feedback and correctins! Keeping you honest, Tim.

Posted by: Amos at May 29, 2003 at 04:49 PM

Oh, feedbacks and correctings! Keeping you honest, Tim.

Posted by: Amos at May 29, 2003 at 04:50 PM

Oh, feed back and.. nevermind.

Posted by: Amos at May 29, 2003 at 04:50 PM

Note for Andrea,

"Crims" is short of "criminals" - used in the same context that Americans would use "perps".

Posted by: Russell at May 29, 2003 at 05:04 PM

I don't care if the people they're chasing have committed no offence at all. Anyone who decides to try and outrun a cop trying to pull them over should obviously be stopped. Otherwise, how would you know why they were fleeing?

It's hardly the behaviour of the innocent.

Posted by: Alan Anderson at May 29, 2003 at 06:44 PM

"correctins" rhymes with cretins maybe SMH needs some.

Posted by: Gary at May 29, 2003 at 08:11 PM

Of course, if cops don't chase suspected car thieves, or other 'petty' criminals, everyone will speed off, and we'll have even more lawlessness than now.
People being killed in accidents is awful, but here's a solution - pull over!!!
Fortunately in the NT we usually don't have to bother with car is quicker!

Posted by: Rosemary at May 29, 2003 at 09:28 PM