Man jailed for 18 months for driving along Perth footpath, forcing pedestrians to leap to safety

A 30-year-old man who drove along a busy Northbridge footpath to try to escape from police, narrowly avoiding hitting pedestrians, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail and banned from driving for life.

Sonny James Kelly was already disqualified from driving for other offences when, in the early hours of September 2021 last year, he illegally made a right-hand turn in the Perth entertainment precinct.

He was seen by police officers travelling in a marked car who then activated their lights and sirens to try to stop him.

Kelly tried to accelerate away, but because traffic was heavy, he deliberately drove on the footpath on James Street to try to escape, forcing a number of pedestrians to jump out the way.

Sonny Kelly
Kelly pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to a string of charges.(Facebook: Sony Kelly)

He then travelled back onto the road and rear-ended another vehicle, before again mounting the kerb and driving back on the footpath.

While still being pursued by police, Kelly jumped out of the moving car, but was wrestled to the ground by three officers.

Sonny Kelly's car
Sonny Kelly’s car rear-ended another vehicle on the road before he mounted the kerb a second time.(ABC News)

Another officer was forced to jump into the moving vehicle to stop it from running them over.

The vehicle, a hire car, eventually came to a stop when it hit a wall.

Police led on chase four months later

Kelly was arrested but refused to provide a sample of his breath for testing.

He was later granted bail, but four months later he was taken back into custody after again being arrested for reckless driving while trying to escape from police.

That offence happened in the southern suburb of Gosnells, when he was seen by police making an illegal U-turn.

Sonny Kelly and another man
Kelly (right) will have to serve nine months behind bars before being eligible for release.(Facebook: Sonny Kelly)

The officers activated their lights and sirens, but Kelly accelerated away, reaching speeds of around 140 kilometres an hour.

At one point he threw a bottle out of his car window at them.

Police lost sight of Kelly, but he was tracked down after he was identified on CCTV footage recorded at a service station.

Kelly pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to a string of charges including endangering the life, health or safety of a person, failing to comply with a direction to stop and driving whilst disqualified.

‘Callous disregard’ for others on road

Magistrate Andrew Maughan told Kelly he had put the welfare of people at risk as well as the safety of the police officers who were trying to hold him to account.

Mr Maughan also said Kelly’s driving record “demonstrated he had a callous disregard for the safety of other road users”.

A red car with dents and crash damage in the Perth CBD at night, with police officers and pedestrians around.
The magistrate said Kelly had endangered the safety of police officers and others.(ABC News)

The magistrate accepted that Kelly’s upbringing had been traumatic and that he had substance abuse issues, but he said he had to send a message to people that when they got behind the wheel, they were in control of a lethal weapon.

Kelly, who was also fined for some of the offences, was made eligible for parole, meaning he will have to serve nine months behind bars before he can be released.

With time already served, he will first be eligible for release in September this year.

Posted , updated 

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