1 March 2024

'I'm sorry, boys': Sentence for apologetic motorist who drove at police before being tasered

| Claire Fenwicke
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Mathew Druett

Mathew Druett received a suspended sentence for time served after driving at a police officer in Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

A Surf Beach man has avoided further jail time after driving at police before being tasered in Canberra.

Mathew Thomas Druett was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court on Friday (1 March) for both the offence and driving unlicensed.

According to the agreed statements of facts, the now 29-year-old man had been pulled over driving a silver-coloured Holden Captiva in the ACT suburb of Reid on 25 September, 2023, after police saw his vehicle had obscured number plates.

Officers discovered the front and back number plates had a sticker over the last letter, but Druett appeared unaware that this was the case.

He told police he had bought the vehicle the day before for $500 from a person in Charnwood.

Druett produced an expired NSW provisional driver’s licence.

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Police checks revealed the plates did not match the car and in fact belonged to a silver Toyota Avalon.

“Up until this point the offender had been polite and cooperative with police,” the court documents noted.

But when Druett was instructed to turn off his vehicle, he instead accelerated and turned his steering wheel to the right, with a police officer still standing at his window.

“Fearing for his safety, [the police officer] reached through the driver’s window and grabbed the key in order to turn off the vehicle,” the court documents noted.

“The offender was actively pushing [the constable] away, preventing him from turning off the vehicle.

“The vehicle continued to accelerate forwards while [the constable’s] arm was still inside the opened window.”

The officer drew his taser as Druett stopped the vehicle, ordering him to turn off the car.

“[The constable] was concerned that the offender would restart the vehicle and once again place him in danger,” the court documents noted.

More officers surrounded the car and ordered Druett to get out of the car.

When he did not comply, the original constable tasered Druett in the chest.

This caused the vehicle to rev and accelerate again.

The officer was then able to remove the keys and remove Druett from the car.

“I’m sorry, boys,” Druett can be heard saying on the body-worn camera footage as he’s on the ground.

Subsequent enquiries revealed the Captiva had been reported stolen on 21 August, 2023. However, it has not been suggested Druett knew this to be the case.

Druett’s lawyer from the Aboriginal Legal Service, Sam Lynch, asked the court not to impose a jail sentence, as his client had already spent 140 days in custody as of 29 February.

He submitted this time already served was appropriate.

“It has dawned on him the gravity of this charge … what it actually means,” Mr Lynch said.

Druett had been subject to a good behaviour order at the time of the offending, and had been granted bail by the Galambany Circle List on 18 October, 2023.

This was revoked on 6 November when he breached those bail conditions.

He pleaded guilty to driving at police and driving unlicenced earlier this year.

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Supreme Court Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson sentenced Druett to 12 months imprisonment, reduced to nine months due to his guilty plea.

This was to be served by four months behind bars – which was backdated to account for time served – and then suspended for a 12-month good behaviour order.

Justice Loukas-Karlsson said that, in her view, Druett had served enough prison time already.

“Hopefully [prison] was a massive wake-up call for you,” she said.

“You need to become the father that your children need, you know that … so [that] the cycle stops with you and your generation.

“You’re still young … you can turn your life around.”

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