New Zealand policeman caught speeding

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New Zealand policeman, Sergeant Gregory Arthur Smith has been caught by a speed camera going 115 kilometres per hour (km/h) in a 50km/h zone. Sergeant Smith has been charged with driving at a dangerous speed, despite having been responding to an emergency, and with his lights flashing.

42-year-old Sergeant Smith was responding to a priority one emergency involving ten school children on a crashed school bus, from Isla Bank School in Winton, Invercargill, New Zealand, and a car. The crash occurred on February 9, 2006.

A priority one emergency means that it requires immediate police attention.

The speed camera he was caught speeding on was hidden in a parked van trying to catch people speeding in school areas. The campaign is titled Speed Kills Kids.

In Invercargill's district court, the hidden speed camera operator, Paul Mussen, said that he saw the police car 270 metres away with its lights flashing, it is unknown if his siren was on, slow down for a pedestrian crossing to allow pupils of James Hargest Junior College to cross the road. He then accelerated "hard" towards him.

Mr Mussen has said that when he first saw the police car turning onto Queens Drive at the Layard Street and Queens Drive intersection he thought, because of the flashing lights, that he was part of the same campaign. When questioned by Bill Dawkins, Sergeant Smith's lawyer, Mr Mussen said that "it was too late to activate the stand-by button which we're not allowed to do anyway," which he confirmed that he told police. Mr Mussen described the stand-by button as a way to let emergency services off having to do "extra paperwork."

Craig Power, prosecutor, has claimed that the speed Sergeant Smith was driving at was dangerous because he was driving in a residential zone, school zone, 50km/h speed limit and the school buses and the sidewalks are busy at 8:43 a.m. (NZDT), the time the speed camera caught him.

Later the same day, Sergeant Smith faxed a report to the Invercargill police stating that he had been caught over the speed limit, what speed he was travelling at, and that he was heading for a serious accident.

A witness for the police, former sub area police supervisor for the rural region of Southland, Senior Sergeant Olaf Jensen said that he was the one who called Sergeant Smith to attend to the emergency, giving him brief details about the crash and telling him that it requires immediate attention.

The case has not yet been resolved.