A POLICE officer has repeatedly told a coronial inquest he wasn’t pursuing a stolen utility in the lead up to a fatal crash.
Deputy state coroner Derek Lee is hearing evidence in Albury following the death of Shaun Crighton, 19, in a collision with a tree on East Street.
Senior Constable Johan Medina was driving with Senior Constable Luke Porritt in the Albury 14 vehicle.
He said he had been following a vehicle on East Street in Albury, reaching about 100km/h, to see if it was the utility stolen from Wodonga a short time earlier.
It crashed as police were about to turn on their lights.
I was just trying to catch up to it to see if it was a stolen carSenior Constable Johan Medina
Acting Senior Sergeant Kris Cooper, of the police traffic policy unit, investigated the actions of the officers.
He told the inquest on Wednesday Senior Constable Medina's actions were appropriate.
"In this matter, I believe it was," he said when asked if he was driving appropriately at the time.
Acting Senior Sergeant Cooper said he had been critical of other police at inquests, but was not critical of the Albury officer.
David Evenden, who is acting on behalf of the late teen’s family, asked Senior Constable Medina why police lights weren’t activated when the car was first seen.
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He replied that it was unclear whether the car they were following was the stolen ute and whether it was speeding.
“I’d like to be able to see the car when I do it,” he said when asked if there was a minimum distance the lights could be used.
The court heard a key question would be whether police considered the incident to be urgent duty, a traffic stop or a pursuit, with different guidelines for each.
Senior Constable Medina considered it a traffic stop.
“It might have been going slightly over the speed limit, but I couldn’t tell how fast it was going,” he said of the ute.
He repeatedly denied being close to the vehicle and denied it was a pursuit.
“I was just trying to catch up to it to see if it was a stolen car,” he said.
The court has heard the GPS data showed police hit about 114km/h, but that the figure may not be entirely accurate.
The crash occurred less than a minute after the stolen utility, which had also evaded officers in Wodonga, was seen by the two Albury police on East Street.
The inquest will continue on Thursday.
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