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Offline AshSimmonds

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Policeman Bryan Eaton's '223km/h chase' caught on camera

By Robyn Ironside
The Courier-Mail

Snr-Sgt Bryan Eaton has been stood down pending an investigation / Picture: Quest


    * Policeman investigated over pursuit
    * "Unauthorised" chase of up to 223km/h
    * Previously involved in fatal chase

A POLICEMAN has been allegedly clocked doing 223km/h during an unauthorised pursuit, six years after being involved in a wild chase in which two men were killed.

Senior-Sergeant Bryan Eaton is being investigated for allegedly racing after a speeding car along a busy section of the Bruce Highway near Brisbane 11 days ago without flashing lights and sirens or approval.

The car got away but the pursuit was captured on camera.

Sen-Sgt Eaton has since been stood down as officer-in-charge of the Pine Rivers traffic branch pending an investigation by Ethical Standards Command.

The matter also has been referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

The Queensland Police Service changed its pursuit policy in May 2004 after the deaths of Coen stockmen Andrew Hill, 33, and Alan Toohey, 49, on Anzac Day the previous year.

Both men died when their unregistered and unroadworthy car crashed into a creek bed and a police four-wheel-drive driven by Sen-Sgt Eaton ploughed into them.

A coronial inquest was told the police vehicle reached about 75km/h on a dirt road and in bad light in pursuit of the men, who were driving a "bull-chaser".

State Coroner Michael Barnes found Sen-Sgt Eaton had driven in a "dangerous manner, with little regard for the safety of the occupants of the car he was chasing".

Mr Barnes did not recommend charges because he found a reasonable person would not have foreseen the "chain of events that led to the deaths". But he urged "a more restrictive pursuit policy".

After the inquest, Hill's widow, Camilla, attacked the decision not to charge Sen-Sgt Eaton, claiming traffic officers could "get away with murder".

The pursuit policy has undergone further modification since 2004, and yesterday a Queensland Police Service spokesman said every pursuit and attempted intercept was closely monitored "to ensure adherence to these policies".

Under current policy, officers must immediately abandon a chase if it creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of any person.

Officers also must inform police communications of the pursuit and follow their instructions.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said their best advice to officers was to avoid police chases.

"Our union has long recommended to our members that they do not pursue offenders under any circumstances because of the lack of legislative protection and the attitude of the State Coroner should a tragic incident occur," Mr Leavers said.

He said earlier this year that police felt extremely frustrated and hamstrung by the pursuit policy, which was seen as preventing them from catching offenders.

"I see a lot of anger from police around the state because they are not allowed to do their job," he said.

Sen-Sgt Eaton is continuing to work for the police service in the Metropolitan North regional office. An estimated 650 police chases are conducted by Queensland police each year.


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