A Whangārei man who led police on a 90 minute chase through paddocks, bush and muddy mangrove flats, who was earlier found with an illegal firearm and ammunition in his car, has been sentenced to home detention.
Dennis Taylor McKeeman, 21, appeared for sentencing in the Whangārei District Court on Tuesday after earlier pleading guilty to a raft of charges from three separate incidents with police.
Charges he pleaded guilty to included possessing a firearm and ammunition without lawful purpose; possessing methamphetamine; possessing utensils for smoking drugs; possessing cannabis; refusing to give a blood sample; refusing to accompany an officer; dangerous driving; reckless driving; three counts of driving while forbidden; failing to stop when requested and failing to stop for red and blue flashing lights.
Judge Greg Davis said on July 21, last year, McKeeman was stopped by police because of his dangerous driving and when stopped appeared to be under the influence of drugs. He was found to have a sawn-off .22 rifle in his vehicle’s boot and ammunition for it inside the car. Also in the car was a bong for smoking cannabis.
On September 19 McKeeman was driving in Raumanga when police stopped him. He was found to have 0.19 grams of meth and he refused to provide a blood sample.
Then on October 29 McKeeman was spotted by police driving on State Highway 1 at Otaika but he drove off. He later abandoned the car and was pursued by police and a dog handler, who tracked him for 90 minutes through paddocks, bush and muddy mangrove flats before he was arrested.
Judge Davis said he must hold McKeeman to account for his crimes and the starting point was imprisonment.
The judge said McKeeman did not have a firearms licence and the only reason people had sawn-off rifles was for illegal purposes.
He said since the Christchurch mosque massacres 12 months ago the appetite for weapons such as this in the community had gone down and the judiciary had to reflect Parliament’s harder line on illegal guns and let people who possessed them know that they would likely get a term of imprisonment.
”You are not going possum shooting with a sawn-off .22,” Judge Davis said.
Judge Davis set a starting point for sentencing at 26 months jail, then deducted two months for the two months McKeeman had spent on electronic bail, a further six months discount was giving for his guilty pleas, leaving an end sentence of 18 months’ jail.
He said this equated to eight months home detention, which was the final sentence handed down, along with a 12 month disqualification for driving.
However, Judge Davis warned McKeeman that it was a concern that he was still driving while on bail for earlier driving offences and if he appeared in the court for driving offences again, the sentencing judge would likely ”chuck you straight in jail”.