An Illawarra woman wanted by police was apprehended after officers found her passed out in the back of an Uber.
Natalie Pierce stood convicted of two driving related crimes – one involving the use of drugs – when a Wollongong magistrate issued a warrant for her arrest on December 10.
However, it would be almost three weeks before the warrant was executed – and came about only through a unique set of circumstances.
Court documents said it was just after 8.30pm on December 29 when Pierce, drunk and alone, caught an Uber, intending to return home.
However, the driver later told police he became so concerned after seeing Pierce pass in and out of consciousness as he drove that he diverted his course and attended Wollongong Police Station instead.
Officers said they discovered Pierce fast asleep in the back of the vehicle.
They shook her awake, confirmed the arrest warrants and remanded her in custody overnight.
Police opposed Pierce’s bail application in court the next day, noting she had five previous warrants for failing to turn up at court, however Registrar Nicole Hoffman agreed to release Pierce on strict conditional bail given she was unlikely to receive jail time when sentenced.
Included in the conditions is daily reporting, a $500 surety, and a stipulation not to enter the driver’s seat of any vehicle.
Court documents said the December warrant was issued after Pierce failed to turn up to court to answer a charge of driving with an illicit drug in her system stemming back to October 2016.
She was convicted of the charge in her absence.
The court heard Pierce was in the driver’s seat of a Mazda when it crashed into two parked cars after she lost control of the vehicle on Gipps Street at Gwynneville just after 6.15am on October 9.
The impact caused the Mazda’s bonnet to flip up, covering the car’s windscreen, however this didn’t stop Pierce from accelerating away.
The car eventually came to a stop on Acacia Avenue and both Pierce and her passenger exited the vehicle.
Pierce was then seen by neighbours to roll around in the grass in a nearby reserve for 10 minutes before curling up on a footbridge over a small creek and falling asleep.
She was still there when police arrived a short time later.
Officers said Pierce was unsteady on her feet, irrational, had difficulty understanding simple commands and her eyes were dilated.
She was taken to Wollongong Hospital where she underwent a urine analysis, which returned a positive reading for methylamphetamine.
A police expert later ruled the amount of ice in Pierce’s system at the time would have impaired her ability to drive.
The case will return to court on January 8.