Ex-cabbie triggers high-speed police chase from Kowloon to New Territories
Banned driver in stolen taxi reaches speeds of up to 140km/h and collides with three police cars during early-morning pursuit
An elderly cabbie who was banned from driving zipped from Kwun Tong to Kwai Chung in a stolen taxi early yesterday, with police in hot pursuit, before he was intercepted in Tai Kok Tsui.
The hair-raising 50-minute chase saw the driver accelerate to speeds of up to 140km/h along the route, which spanned at least 50 kilometres, said Senior Superintendent Henry Ho Ming-sun, head of the Kowloon East traffic unit.
The taxi jumped red lights and hit at least three police vehicles. No passengers were on board.
Towards the end of the chase, "the taxi was sandwiched by two police vehicles, but it still ran for a distance before stopping in front of a police van that had been positioned as a barricade at the junction of Tung Chau Street and Tai Kok Tsui Road," Ho said.
Police arrested a man, 61, for five offences - dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, using a false document, vehicle theft and driving without third-party insurance. No one was injured despite the reckless driving.
The arrest also ended the cabbie's three-month illegal business, in which he allegedly took phone orders from regular customers using the stolen cab, despite having had a six-month driving ban imposed in July.
The drama began at 12.40am when a traffic policeman on a motorcycle noticed that the cab was not keeping left on the elevated Kwun Tong Bypass.
The cabbie initially pulled over when the officer signalled for him to stop.
"But when our officer got off his motorcycle, the cabbie sped off immediately," Ho said.
With sirens blaring, a police van and an unmarked police car gave chase, joined by another officer on a motorbike. The cabbie ignored orders to pull over and police in other districts were alerted to set up roadblocks.
The taxi first exited the highway in San Po Kong, charging through Prince Edward Road East before turning into Argyle Street in Mong Kok, followed by Hong Chong Road in Hung Hom and Waterloo Road in Yau Ma Tei. In Lai Chi Kok, it sped back onto an expressway towards the New Territories, but made a U-turn in Kwai Chung back in the direction of Kowloon.
Police said the taxi collided with police vehicles on Kwai Chung Road in Lai Chi Kok and the West Kowloon Corridor in Sham Shui Po before exiting in Tai Kok Tsui.
"During the pursuit, the taxi drove at high speed, disobeyed traffic lights and switched lanes recklessly," Ho said.
The chase ended at 1.30am when, the senior superintendent believed, the cabbie gave up because "he realised there was no chance of escape".
The Mong Kok crime squad is investigating and no charges have yet been laid.
The man had worked as a taxi driver for more than 20 years.
Police said the taxi was reported stolen in Kwun Tong in August. Its number plate was fake.