Police did not breach road rules

A BUNDABERG police officer did not breach the rules when he tried to intercept a motorcyclist who was killed after dodging a breath test, an inquest has found.

Coroner Michael Barnes said yesterday that Matthew Raymond Cullen died from injuries sustained when he lost control of his motorbike at the intersection of Takalvan and Walker streets, while trying to evade police “and affected by alcohol”.

The inquest in Bundaberg was told Mr Cullen, 21, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14% after drinking with friends on July 26 last year and was listening to his mp3 player when he was waved down by a police officer conducting breath-tests on Takalvan Street.

Senior Constable Shane Cavanagh was also driving in the area after returning from an unrelated job, and noticed the 250cc Honda motorcycle being driven at high speed by Mr Cullen through a roundabout on Heidke Street.

Snr Const Cavanagh was following 50m to 100m behind Mr Cullen as the rider swerved to avoid the breath-test site, and accelerated away towards Hampson Street.

After switching on the police car’s lights and sirens, Snr Const Cavanagh followed Mr Cullen for between 13 and 18 seconds, the inquest was told.

But as the rider’s speed approached 90kmh and it became clear he was not going to stop, Snr Const Cavanagh said he decided to abandon the interception and stop following Mr Cullen — in accordance with police policy.

Moments later, Mr Cullen tried to turn down Walker Street, and hit a traffic island in the centre of Takalvan Street.

Despite first aid attempts by Snr Const Cavanagh and others at the scene, the victim died from massive internal, chest and abdominal injuries in Bundaberg Hospital that night.

“If Mr Cullen had not crashed but instead proceeded down Walker Street, it would have been incumbent on the officer to discontinue trying to intercept him,” Mr Barnes said.

“Snr Const Cavanagh was in the process of (stopping) when the crash occurred.”

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