By Cam Lucadou-Wells
In an apparent act of penance, a driver who raced his V8 ute at up to 147km/h on Princes Highway, Springvale has since swapped to a Ford Focus, a court has heard.
James Rory O’Connell, 32, had been intercepted by police after appearing to race side-by-side with a Porsche on the public highway shortly after midnight on 24 February.
Highway Patrol members drew up next to O’Connell’s ute at 147 km/h.
The Porsche allegedly accelerated away at up to 169 km/h, the police took chase and intercepted it.
O’Connell later told police the Porsche had “provoked” him into the duel.
“He was trying to intimidate,” he told Dandenong Magistrate’s Court on 17 September.
“He was speeding up and backing off, trying to get me to race with him.”
The Porsche lost control and nearly struck his car. O’Connell indicated and changed lanes to keep his distance.
He accelerated to try to get away from the Porsche; it would have been wiser to have braked, he reflected to the court.
O’Connell pleaded guilty to driving at dangerous speed as well as performing an illegal U-turn against a red light shortly before the speedy encounter.
O’Connell’s car was located at his home address by police and impounded for 30 days.
He told Dandenong Magistrates’ Court it cost him $405 to free the car, which he later sold off.
He also renounced ever visiting again “organised enthasiasts’ car clubs” – like the one he had attended earlier in the night in question.
Magistrate Simon Zebrowski noted that at that speed, any slight error could send O’Connell’s car off the road and striking pedestrians or motorists.
“That rate of speed is too fast.
“I don’t care how good a driver you think you are.
“The best case scenario (in that situation) is you just kill yourself, and not someone else driving or walking along the road.”
O’Connell was convicted and fined $1000, disqualified for the mandatory-minimum 12 months and ordered to attend a safe-driving program.