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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Olivia Ireland

Pursuit driver 'steps up' after losing tyres during 40km birthday chase

Samantha Campbell leaves court after being sentenced on Friday. Picture by Olivia Ireland

A woman arrested on her birthday after leading police on a pursuit across Canberra has "really stepped up in a significant way" since the 40km chase, a magistrate has said.

Samantha Jane Campbell, 30, faced the Galambany Circle Sentencing Court on Friday to be sentenced on eight charges, including aggravated furious driving, driving a vehicle without consent and failing to appear after a bail undertaking.

Special magistrate Anthony Hopkins sentenced her to a suspended jail term of eight months and a drivers' licence disqualification.

Court documents show Campbell "accelerated heavily" away from police when officers tried to stop the stolen Holden Commodore she was driving at 3.39am on December 13 last year.

Campbell fled up to 40km across Canberra, from Braddon to Tuggeranong, driving on the wrong side of the road, speeding and not stopping at red lights.

Police deflated the Commodore's tyres using stop sticks in Richardson, however Campbell kept driving until the tyres fell off and the car "fishtailed badly" when she left the road and crashed into a sign.

Campbell was arrested and immediately pleaded guilty when she appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court later that morning.

The immediate guilty plea on top of her demonstrating "pride" and improvements to her life were factors Dr Hopkins took into account when sentencing Campbell on Friday.

Campbell spoke before elders and Dr Hopkins, describing her traumatic past as something that led her to drug usage.

She said she now felt "sorry to the community" and wished her offending never happened.

Elder Michele Abel told Campbell they needed to be assured of her "reliability" in being a better member of the community.

Defence lawyer Emilia Currey submitted Campbell had taken significant steps to prioritise her rehabilitation.

She said Campbell had, since being granted bail, reported daily to police, found secure housing, taken part in group therapy and addressed her drug and alcohol issues.

Ms Currey's ultimate submission was for Campbell to have a community-based order to continue steps she had already taken as imprisonment would be "a step back".

Prosecutor Hannah Lee argued Campbell's criminal history of failing to appear in court, multiple driving offences and charges while on a suspended sentence made it appear likely she would reoffend.

"It all starts with personal accountability and that includes accepting punishment," Ms Lee said.

Dr Hopkins said he did need to factor in her history and said driving away from police "made things worse and worse".

However, he did not send her behind bars as she had "really stepped up in a significant way".

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