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June 2, 2023

Court hears of 200km pursuit that ended in river

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A man who was arrested at Ballina after allegedly leading officers on a 200 kilometre long high speed chase across the Northern Rivers was mentioned at Lismore Local Court on Tuesday.

On Sunday December 11, 2016, a pursuit was initiated when David Michael Bell drove from a random breath test site at Macksville and allegedly pointed a gun at officers.

Mr Bell eventually evaded officers at Valla, about 35km south of Coffs Harbour, by allegedly ramming a State Forestry gate in his van and escaping into bushland.

Investigations by police found Mr Bell, 37, from Queensland, was wanted in both his home state and South Australia.

Then on December 30, police spotted the van, containing two men, shortly before 1am at Woodburn and a pursuit was initiated.

Police allege allege Mr Bell drove at high speed to Lismore via Wyrallah Road, then onto the Bruxner Highway before turning onto Wardell Road at Alstonville and continuing to Wardell, about 12km south of Ballina.

At the South Ballina ferry terminal the van was driven into the river and two men were seen swimming away.

The Queensland airwing, PolAir, joined local police in searching for the men, and about 2.15am officers in a boat arrested Mr Bell, 37 and a 24-year-old man.

They were taken to Lismore police station where Mr Bell was charged with nine offences including attempting to discharge a firearm with intent to resist arrest, using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful apprehension, police pursuit, driving while suspended and using false documents.

Mr Bell and his accomplice were both refused bail.

The van was towed from the Richmond River and was sent to be forensically examined.

The court has previously heard police allege Mr Bell had $500,000 of stolen cigarettes in his possession before his arrest, which may have been dumped at Tabbimoble.

On Tuesday, Mr Bell’s solicitor Rod Behan told the court he had received the brief of evidence against his client and the Director of Public Prosecutions had elected to take carriage of his matters.

Mr Behan did not apply for bail for Mr Bell and told the court representations to prosecution concerning the charges would be made in the next seven days.

Magistrate David Heilpern adjourned Mr Bell’s matters until May 8, where Mr Bell is expected to appear via videolink.

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