Grieving husband says police chase was understandable, despite a damning IPCA report
The husband of a Kaiapoi man killed in a crash with a teenage driver fleeing police is not blaming police – despite an official ruling the pursuit was not justified. However the Children’s Commissioner has repeated calls for police to abandon chases when young people are involved.
Kenneth McCaul, 64, was killed on 22 October last year when Jayden Breakwell, the then-17-year-old driver of the fleeing car, smashed into McCaul’s car as he was heading to work early in the morning in Christchurch.
Breakwell and four others with him in the fleeing car were also badly injured in the crash.
Breakwell pleaded guilty to manslaughter and reckless driving causing injury, and was sentenced to two years and eight months jail in December.
However, yesterday the Independent Police Authority said the four-and-a-half minute high-speed chase through central Christchurch should not have been started, was poorly managed, should have been called off at multiple points, and the controller had no plans for how to end it safely.
McCaul’s husband Owen Fraser spoke to Morning Report today, saying he’s comfortable with the choices the police made, and responsibility for the crash should solely be laid at the feet of the driver.
“If he had stopped, it would’ve be fine. I don’t know why the police have to always be picked on, and there’s hardly nothing said about the driver.
“What do you do, just let the driver go beserk around the city? Or do you stop them?
“I’m on the police’s side. They were doing their job You can’t have people driving around wild around the city and just doing what they like. If you can’t stop for the police when they tell you to stop then you shouldn’t be on the road.”
Fraser says he hasn’t looked into the details of the IPCA investigation, but he would’ve liked Breakwell to receive a longer sentence for his actions.
Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft has repeated his calls for a ban on police chasing fleeing young drivers.
Speaking to RNZ after the IPCA’s decision was released he says the crash was a tragedy, and he’s sick of hearing of deaths from high-speed chases when there’s more constructive ways to catch the offenders.
“It’s clear from the police conduct authority report it was avoidable … almost always they can catch and hold the young person to account the next morning; good police techniques can do that. After all young people normally drive home – the police can catch them pretty easily.
“I used to think that the opposite was true, they should always chase, the law shouldn’t be mocked, but … the risks are too high; too many people are dying … innocent people, and too many children and young people in cars are dying.”
He says adults also make bad decisions in the heat of the moment in car chases, and young drivers are even more prone to this.
“Children and young people make reckless, irresponsible, stupid decisions under pressure. And sometimes the whole purpose is to lure the police into the chase.
“We can do much better, we’ve got to have a change.”