R v Thompson [2018] NZDC 18874

Published 10 June 2020

Application to dismiss charge — endangering transport — interference with transport facility — definition of interfere — Crimes Act 1961, s 270 — Karanga v R CRI-2017-090-005340, DC Auckland 8 March 2018 — R v Powell [2002] 1 NZLR 666 — R v Fenton 20 CRNZ 76. The defendant faced a charge of endangering transport under s 270 of the Crimes Act, which has a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment. It was alleged that while trying to evade police the defendant had driven at high speeds and on the wrong side of a motorway, putting over 60 vehicles and their occupants in danger. The defendant applied to dismiss the charge on the basis that even the allegations were proved, they did not come within the ambit of s 270. To prosecute the defendant with endangering transport, the Crown had to prove: first, he had reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property; second, he intended to interfere with a transport facility; and third, that he interfered with a transport facility. The main issue was whether the defendant, by driving the wrong way on a motorway, “interfered” with the motorway. Counsel for the defendant submitted there was no way the defendant could be convicted of the crime as his conduct did not come within the ambit of s 270. More specifically that the element of "interference" could not be made out as the defendant did not interfere with the motorway, he simply drove on it. The Judge reviewed case law as well as dictionary definitions of the word "interfere". It was decided that the alleged driving by the defendant did amount to interference. A properly directed jury could conclude that the charge had been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The application was dismissed. Judgment Date: 10 September 2018.