Coroner to re-examine Victoria chase rules

Just 21 seconds after a high-speed police chase through a suburban Melbourne street began, it ended with fatal consequences.

Raymond Noel Taylor, 30, was thrown from his car after colliding with parked cars and an oncoming vehicle in June 2017 while officers chased behind.

Mr Taylor’s death occurred after Victoria Police introduced a new pursuits policy in 2016, following a series of recommendations from coroner John Olle.

His recommendations followed an inquest into the deaths of teenagers Sarah Booth, 17, in 2006 and Jason Kumar, 15, in 2009.

Mr Olle is re-examining pursuit rules now, heading an inquest into Mr Taylor’s death.

What unfolded began as a routine registration check on Mr Taylor’s car, which passed a police car in Northcote at around 11pm on June 25, 2017.

His car was unregistered and the officers performed a u-turn trying to pull him over.

“What started with a brief encounter quickly became a high-speed police pursuit, with the police vehicle reaching speeds of 156km/h,” counsel assisting the coroner, Michael Rivette, said on Monday.

Less than a minute after the registration check, and just 21 seconds after the pursuit was called by the officers in the car, it ended.

Mr Taylor lost control of his car and veered onto the wrong side of the road.

He hit several parked cars before colliding with an oncoming vehicle driven by a man who was physically unharmed.

Mr Taylor was thrown from the car and suffered fatal injuries.

“Even after Your Honour’s recommendations and even after many of them being adopted, we find ourselves here today,” Mr Rivette said.

The inquest will examine the circumstances and appropriateness of the decision to follow Mr Taylor’s vehicle, and of the decision by Victoria Police officers to instigate a pursuit.

It will look at whether the decision, having been made, was in compliance with the 2016 pursuit policy and the adequacy of Victoria Police’s methods of ensuring officers involved in pursuits are trained and equipped to comply with the policy.

The court heard the two officers involved in the pursuit were experienced and licensed to drive at unlimited speeds.

The sergeant, who was behind the wheel, has terminated high-speed pursuits in the past as a pursuit controller.

The inquest is scheduled for four days.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Libby Murphy will give evidence about the force’s pursuit policy.

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