Ipswich Courthouse. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Ipswich Courthouse. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Offender drove straight at police at night with lights off

POLICE went after the speeding driver of a black Ford Territory but when a patrol crew caught up with him later that night he was busted leaving the scene in a car driven by his mum.

Errant driver Ropati Leu had phoned his mum and dad to come and pick him up.

At the time of driving he was disqualified for two years by a court order, Ipswich Magistrates Court heard.

Ropati Leu, 33, a forklift driver from Raceview, appeared from jail via video-link for sentence.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle on June 10; driving when court disqualified; two counts of being in possession of dangerous drugs; obstructing police; two counts of failing to dispose of needle/syringe; two counts of being in possession of drug utensils that had been used.

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He also pleaded to a series of domestic violence related offences.

Prosecutor Sergeant Molinaro said Leu was found on October 26 with clip-seal bags that held a small quantity of drugs with Leu saying it was ice and cannabis.

And in an incident on October 25, police in Booval detained Leu at the Prince Alfred Hotel and found three used syringes in his bag.

Sgt Molinaro said his criminal history included offences of violence including robbery, drug supply and two previous driving when disqualified offences in 2018 and 2019.

Earlier this year he’d been sentenced for drug and unlawful use of a motor vehicle and received a six month jail term, with immediate parole release.

Ipswich District Court had also sentenced him for drug supply charges, with Leu receiving a six month jail term with immediate parole release.

Sgt Molinaro said Leu was seen at 8.15pm on June 10 driving the black Ford at high speed in Redbank Plains.

The headlights were switched off and Leu had driven onto the wrong side of the road directly at a police car.

Later that evening he’d been collected by his mother after police deployed tyre deflation devices.

When spoken to by police Leu refused to leave his mother’s car.

He held a glass pipe and struggled with police, swinging the drug utensil at an officer when being arrested.

Sgt Molinaro said Leu, by driving directly at the police car, had presented a clear danger to the officers in his attempt to intimidate them.

Police sought a jail term of between 15 and 18 months for the dangerous driving offence, and shorter concurrent jail terms for his other offending.

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Since his arrest Leu had been held on remand 128 days.

Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said it was accepted that Leu had been driving onto the wrong side with his headlights off.

But he said there was very little information as to how close he came to the police car.

“It is difficult to engage the level of intent,” Mr Fairclough said.

He said Leu, a father of two, is a New Zealand citizen and of Samoan heritage who came to Australia in 2003 with his 11 brothers and sisters.

He had issues with illicit substances and recognises drugs contributed to his offending.

The court heard he may have immigration issues as a result of his crimes.

Magistrate Terry Duroux took into account his 128 days already spent in custody, his struggles with drugs, and that in February he received a six month jail term with immediate parole for other offences.

Mr Duroux sentenced him to 12 month jail term for dangerous operation, wholly suspended for three years.

He received lesser jail terms on the other charges and was granted immediate eligibility to begin his application for parole.

“Thank you, your honour. God bless,” Leu said.

Read more stories by Ross Irby here .

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