A POLICE helicopter was diverted from the hunt for Malcolm Naden to help chase down two alleged criminals who took police on a 170 kilometre, two-hour pursuit through the Hunter yesterday.
The chase, which included about 75 kilometres the wrong way along the F3 and an alleged carjacking, eventually ended on a remote Coalfields road after police used spikes then rammed the stolen BMW and arrested a couple.
Highway patrol officers manned freeway on-ramps to stop vehicles entering the southbound lanes after an allegedly stolen Ford Falcon XR6 sped north from near the twin service stations at Warnervale to the northern end of the F3 at Beresfield.
Police allege a couple in a BMW 120i was then robbed of their vehicle at gunpoint after the XR6 was driven off the road near a Beresfield service station. A man with a pistol is alleged to have threatened them before taking their grey sedan.
Police followed the BMW along the New England Highway and through streets in Maitland, including its main High Street, before heading towards the Coalfields.
A police helicopter, Polair 2, then joined the chase, with crew able to keep an eye on the wanted car as other officers continued at a safe distance behind. It is alleged the BMW was driven at speeds in excess of 200km/h at times.
Police from five commands – Tuggerah Lakes, Newcastle City, Central Hunter, Lake Macquarie and Hunter Valley – took part in the chase. As the helicopter crew watched the car, other officers were sent in front.
Running low on fuel, the police helicopter was forced to pull out, with its position taken by a TV chopper.
Road spikes were used on the BMW before police rammed it on Paynes Crossing Road, south of Broke. Officers jumped from their cars with guns drawn before taking into a custody a man and woman from Queensland. Police allegedly found a pistol near where the pair was arrested.
The man, 25, has been charged with two counts of police pursuit under ‘‘Skye’s Law’’, car theft, dangerous driving, armed robbery and being armed with intent.
The woman, 24, was charged over the theft of a vehicle from Queensland as well as failure to pay for petrol and armed robbery.
Both were refused bail and will appear in Maitland Local Court today.
Despite what was said in other media reports, the chase did not have any links with Naden other than the helicopter being diverted from his search north of the Barrington Tops.