DISQUALIFIED from driving for life at the turn of the century and behind the wheel during a high-speed pursuit that led to the death of a police officer in 2016, Paul Robert Johnson has since led police on three more high-speed pursuits, including one where he crashed into a cemetery and damaged 17 grave sites, Newcastle District Court has heard.
Johnson, now 39 and boasting one of the Hunter's worst driving records which has led to him spending nearly 80 per cent of his adult life behind bars, was on Friday jailed for a maximum of three years after he pleaded guilty to two more high-speed pursuits.
The two most recent pursuits - in May 2019 and September 2020 - occurred while Jonson was either on parole or on bail and had been using methamphetamine.
Both times he was driving a stolen car with false number plates and he weaved in an out of traffic, ran red lights or drove on the wrong side of the road to attempt to force police to call off the pursuit. The pursuit in May 2019 lasted for about nine minutes before Johnson crashed through a cemetery fence and smashed 17 grave sites.
The September 2020 pursuit went for about 48 minutes as Johnson crossed to the wrong side of the road, reached speeds of about 140km/h and repeatedly drove up onto the footpath to avoid road spikes.
It was eventually called off by police, but PolAir, hovering overhead, followed Johnson to a house where he was later arrested.
Johnson was in 2017 found guilty of being behind the wheel of a damaged white Ford Falcon that snaked its way through nearly a dozen Hunter suburbs during a high-speed police pursuit a year earlier.
An inquest into Sergeant Richardson's death in 2018 found he was driving at high speed to deploy road spikes ahead of a police chase when his car crashed into a tree, killing him instantly. Johnson was jailed for a maximum of two years, with a non-parole period of 18 months for the pursuit that led to Sergeant Richardson's death. But it can be revealed that he has since been involved in three more high-speed police pursuits in the intervening years, despite spending most of that time behind bars.
Johnson gave evidence on Friday, saying he was at a "crossroads" in his life and needed to address his drug addiction to stop the "revolving door" of going to jail.
When asked how he felt about the pursuits, Johnson replied: "Disgraced in myself really. Because I put people at risk doing the stupidity I was doing to try to get away."