CCTV footage has captured the moment pedestrians, including a father pushing a pram, were forced to jump out of the path of a lunatic driver as he tore through red lights at two of Wollongong’s busiest intersections after refusing to stop for police.
Serial criminal Michael Lightowlers had already put several other motorists in danger with his erratic driving through the CBD when he sped towards the intersection of Keira and Crown streets just before lunchtime on the second last Friday in October.
Footage played in Wollongong Local Court on Friday shows at least 10 people in the midst of crossing the street on a green pedestrian arrow when Lightowlers’ drives through the intersection in his black Ford SUV, causing the pedestrians to scramble out of the way to avoid being hit.
He is then momentarily brought to a halt by banked-up traffic, however Lightowlers is seen to manoeuvre his car onto the wrong side of the road and attempt to squeeze through a gap between two vehicles.
When this doesn’t work, Lightowlers reverses briefly, then drives the SUV towards a VW Golf, mounting the side of the vehicle and driving momentarily on two wheels in order to push past.
He then accelerates off towards the intersection of Keira and Market streets, at the same time as a couple with a young child in a pram starts to cross the road.
The footage shows the pair is unaware of the vehicle heading towards them until the last moment, causing the man to jump backwards, forcefully pulling the pram and his partner with him to avoid a collision.
Police said had the man not spotted the vehicle and taken evasive action at the moment he did, the SUV would have hit the pram, potentially seriously injuring or killing the child.
Lightowlers dumped the vehicle at the back of Simple Cycles on Market Street before catching a bus out of the CBD. He was arrested at his Woonona home a few days later after police identified him fleeing the scene.
Lightowlers pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving and driving while disqualified in court on Friday.
In sentencing Lightowlers to at least 13 months behind bars on Friday, Magistrate Mark Douglass said his manner of driving that day was one of the worst he’d seen in his two decades in the court system.
“People were exposed to a course of driving that should be reserved for Hollywood,” he said. “He must understand he put others lives at risk.”
The Mercury understand Lightowlers has lodged an appeal against the decision.