A man who’d been released on parole five days earlier carjacked a woman at a popular Byron shopping centre.
A man who’d been released on parole five days earlier carjacked a woman at a popular Byron shopping centre.

Woman carjacked while waiting for family at shopping centre

A MAN guilty of carjacking a visitor to Byron Bay in January had been on parole for just five days, a court has heard.

Ashley Lee, 34, told police he'd done "nothing wrong" when they removed him from a stolen white Subaru Impreza and arrested him on the afternoon of January 19 this year.

But the Coffs Harbour man had broken numerous laws that day, although he stuck to the speed limit while he was repeatedly pursued by police.

Lee, who had been released on parole just five days earlier after serving a prison term for larceny, entered the driver's seat of the Subaru while its passenger-seat occupant, a 51-year-old woman, waited for her partner and children in the underground car park of the Mercato shopping centre in Byron Bay shortly after 12pm.

According to court documents, Lee repeatedly told the shocked woman to get out of the car.

She ultimately left the vehicle, but took photos on her phone of her vehicle, two of which showed Lee in the driver's seat.

As she was on the phone to Triple 0, Lee left Mercato and turned right down Jonson St.

Highway Patrol officers spotted the vehicle on The Coast Rd at Skennars Head about 15 minutes later.

Lee turned onto Skennars Head Rd and while police tried to stop him, he proceeded onto North Creek Rd before getting back on The Coast Rd and heading back north.

After he turned down Ross Lane, police deployed road spikes and while Lee drove onto the wrong side of the road, two tyres were spiked and the car came to a stop.

Court documents detail Lee driving at or below the speed limit at all times throughout the pursuits.

When he was taken from the vehicle and arrested, he told police: "I've done nothing wrong".

But he then refused a breath test and a breath analysis.

Defence solicitor Kate Brady lodged guilty pleas to all charges when Lee appeared by video link from custody before Byron Bay Local Court on Monday.

These charges included unlawfully taking a vehicle with a person in it, taking and driving a car without consent, police pursuit, failing to comply with a request to stop, driving with a suspended licence and refusing to submit to a breath test and a breath analysis.

Lee had earlier indicated he planned to defend the charges, when he was self-represented in January.

Ms Brady asked Magistrate Michael Dakin to order a sentencing assessment report, which considers potential options other than full-time custody.

But Mr Dakin denied this, saying he had "difficulty accepting" that such a report would assist him in light of the short time Lee had been on parole before the offence.

Police are seeking $935 in compensation for the road spike device used to apprehend him.

Lee has a lengthy criminal record, including assaults, high range drink-driving, other driving offences and rape.

He's expected to be sentenced on March 23.


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