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Gary Raymond Cooper sentenced for string of driving offences

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Gary Raymond Cooper, 28, pleaded guilty to evading police, dangerous driving, driving without a licence and driving while under the influence of an illegal drug.

About 8am on August 5, police in an unmarked car saw Cooper driving at 137 km/h on the East Tamar Highway near Dilston. The officers began chasing Cooper with lights and siren, but he continued to drive towards Launceston at high speed.

Cooper drove onto a road verge to overtake a car and then sharply cut across two lanes to get to an exit ramp. 

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While sentencing Cooper in Launceston’s Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Robert Pearce said the offender’s erratic driving caused him to leave the road and end up on an adjacent driveway, damaging a residential fence and his car.

Police chased the Cooper through Newnham, back to the highway and along John Lees Drive to Windermere Road.

Attempting to escape police, Cooper turned across double white lines and drove the wrong direction down an exit ramp on the highway. 

Cooper, who was driving on the wrong side of the highway, forced two vehicles heading towards him to take “evasive action” to prevent a crash. 

After about two kilometres the offender went down another exit ramp and then through a single-lane tunnel in the wrong direction. 

“When the police next saw him on Windermere Road he had removed the vehicle number plates in an apparent attempt to avoid apprehension,” Justice Pearce said. 

“He again refused to stop and drove back to the highway despite the fact that, by then, the front tyre of his car was flat and had left the rim.”

Cooper drove the car until the wheel collapsed and the car caught fire. He attempted to flee on foot but was quickly arrested and taken into custody. Cooper will be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence. 

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