VIDEO: Police defend fatal pursuit

POLICE have defended the need to enter into a high-speed Boxing Day chase with a motorcyclist despite having his licence and details.

A critical incident investigation has been launched after the motorcyclist, who has only been identified as being a 40-year-old man, died in John Hunter Hospital this morning of his injuries.

The bike rider had stopped at a random breath testing station on Nelson Bay Road at Fern Bay about 11.30am but took off as police were conducting a licence check.

Checks found he did not hold a current licence. It is not believed he was wanted by police.

Several highway patrol vehicles gave chase along Port Stephens roads before the motorcyclist, who was reportedly doing up to 180kmh at times during the chase, crashed off Masonite Road at Heatherbrae.

Northern Region commander Assistant Commissioner Carlene York this morning defended questions about why police had given chase despite having the man’s details.

‘‘There is obviously various reasons why police enter into a pursuit and sometimes the facts aren’t always clear,’’ Ms York said.

‘‘But, as I say, the investigators will look at the reasons for the pursuit and whether or not those protocols were followed.’’

Ms York had earlier said it appeared that protocols had been followed but that there were ‘‘circumstances that the investigative team will look at to make sure that police did the right thing in the pursuit and to work out why the tragedy did occur’’.

‘‘We have very strict guidelines and protocols in relation to when and how the police can intervene in a pursuit and those will be looked at in this investigation,’’ she said.

Ms York said she would not reveal any details about the man as his family grieves his death.

She also called on any witnesses to the pursuit to contact Central Hunter police, who have taken carriage of the investigation.

‘‘A lot of visitors come to this area at this time of year as well so they may have returned home, so it is important to get the message out that we want to speak to any independent witnesses that can give us their versions of events, what they might have seen and that will help us in the investigation,’;’ Ms York said.

Information can be forwarded to Central Hunter police on 49340 200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Man dies after police pursuit

POLICE are appealing for public assistance after a man died when he crashed a motorcycle following a police pursuit at Heatherbrae.

Shortly after 11.30am on Boxing Day a Suzuki motorcycle stopped at a stationary RBT site on Nelson Bay Road at Fern Bay.

Police conducted a licence check on the 40-year-old male rider and established that he did not hold a current rider’s licence.

The man sped away in a northerly direction and police initiated a pursuit.

He turned right into Cabbage Tree Road before turning right on Masonite Road and travelling in a northerly direction.

A short time later his motorcycle left the roadway and crashed into a metal pole.

He was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in a critical condition.

The Herald reported on December 27 that the motorcyclist had allegedly reached speeds in excess of 180km/h during the pursuit through the Port Stephens area.

A critical incident investigation team was established to investigate the incident.

The man died around midnight in hospital.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw the motorcyclist on Boxing Day to contact Maitland Police Station on (02) 4934 0200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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