Officer ‘lucky to be alive’ after split second swerve
An unlicensed driver who ploughed into a police officer during a wild drug-fuelled 90-minute car chase across Brisbane has been jailed.
Constable Kieran Smyth's life changed in a split second when he tried to deploy stingers to stop the stolen Audi and was slammed into at the intersection of Wynnum and Junction roads at Morningside.
The impact broke Constable Smyth's right leg and despite one month in hospital and 18 months of physiotherapy his injuries still cause him pain, the Brisbane District Court was told.
Michael John Purcell, 28, was behind the wheel of the stolen wagon that led police cars and Polair on a pursuit through Sandgate, Taigum, Banyo and across the Story Bridge about 9pm on October 6, 2017.
Over 90 minutes, Purcell drove on footpaths, into oncoming traffic, through red lights and through the AirportLink tunnel the wrong way before eventually hitting Constable Smyth.
Video footage played in court showed the Deception Bay man swerve at the last second to avoid the stingers and hit the officer.
Purcell and two other passengers fled the car.
He was arrested shortly later and tested positive for methylamphetamine.
Purcell pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a vehicle with aggravation, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, malicious act with intent, failing to stop and driving unlicensed.
He also pleaded guilty to assaulting another prisoner at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre by throwing boiling water through an air vent into his cell.
Defence barrister John Jacob said Purcell's decision to turn was a "split second" reaction and he had not meant to hit Constable Smyth.
Mr Jacob said the Rockhampton-born father had spiralled into daily ice habit after the death of his partner and "felt terrible" about the harm he had caused the officer and his family.
"He understands that he needs to better his decision making and make a concerted effort to redirect his life," Mr Jacob said.
"Refreshingly he expressed that he actually wants to be on parole for as long as possible to assist him in that regard."
Prosecutor Judy Geary said Purcell had significant criminal history and was jailed for 4.5 years in 2012 for an armed robbery.
She said it was clearly "reckless, dangerous conduct".
"It's extremely dangerous and it's extremely fortunate that officer Smyth didn't receive further injuries given the size and weight of that vehicle," Ms Geary said.
Judge Orazio Rinaudo sentenced Purcell to nine years' jail.
"Having seen the footage it's somewhat amazing that he got away with a very serious injury to his leg and didn't lose his life," Judge Rinaudo said.
"He was very lucky indeed."
After three years already served behind bars, Purcell will be eligible for parole in April, 2022.
Purcell was also disqualified from driving for two years.
Originally published as Officer ‘lucky to be alive’ after split second swerve