Man jailed over gun threat in 'appalling' high-speed pursuit
By Sam McKeith
A MAN who led highway patrol officers on an "absolutely appalling” high-speed pursuit on the NSW North Coast has been sentenced to four years behind bars.
On Thursday, NSW District Court Acting Judge Colin Charteris sentenced David Michael Bell, 39, to a maximum term of four years and three months in jail flowing from conduct after he fled an RBT at Macksville on the morning of December 11, 2016.
Acting Judge Charteris imposed a non-parole period of two years and six months.
Bell, a former dirt bike racer, was last month found guilty of a raft of firearms charges arising out of the pursuit - sparked when he produced a fake licence to officers at the north coast RBT then sped away.
He was convicted at a judge-alone trial of possessing an offensive weapon and several counts of threatening to use it to prevent his apprehension in the 15-minute pursuit that covered more than 20km at speeds of up to 180km/h.
During the chase, Bell was found to have waved and pointed a shotgun out the driver's side window towards officers before speeding down a bush track and "levelling” a gun at police.
In handing down sentence, Acting Judge Charteris described Bell's conduct as "absolutely appalling”, saying it caused police to be "concerned for their wellbeing”.
"I do accept that this was very serious criminal conduct,” the judge said.
"There is no explanation as to why he behaved in this very concerning manner.
"These offences had no regard for the safety of others ... he was intent on outrunning the police.”
He took into account Bell's "very difficult” upbringing, including evidence that he suffered sexual abuse as a young boy.
"Mercifully the family moved from that location and the appalling behaviour came to an end,” the judge said.
Acting Judge Charteris said Bell also "painted a picture of a family that had great financial difficulties”.
"He spent a lot of time couch surfing and didn't get any family support,” he said.
"He's had a tougher life than most in the community have encountered.”
The court was told that before the offences Bell was a heavy cocaine user but had been mostly clean of drugs while in prison.
It also heard that he was seeking counselling in jail and on anti-depressant medication.
"I don't tend to be as moody and aggressive,” Bell told the court.
With time served, Bell will be eligible for parole on June 28, 2021.