The West

Officers son in 140kmh police chase
High-speed pursuit: Sgt Jason Patrick Gentili. Picture: Mitchell Smith/North West Telegraph

A senior police officer who had his teenage son in the back seat during a high-speed pursuit remains in charge of a Pilbara station.

Port Hedland Sgt Jason Patrick Gentili's police vehicle reached 140km/h, 80km/h above the posted limit and a speed he was not qualified to travel at, during the pursuit of a motorcyclist last year.

His 17-year-old son was in the back seat at the time.

Sgt Gentili, 45, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of dangerous driving when he appeared in South Hedland Magistrate's Court in April after first pleading not guilty to reckless driving by speeding. He was fined $1200 but kept his licence.

Sgt Gentili and his partner, Const. Anthony Higgins, detected the speeding motorcyclist about 9.30pm on August 1. After failing to find the offender, Sgt Gentili went home and collected his son, a police cadet, for a "ride along".

About 9.45pm the motorcycle was spotted again on Athol Street and Sgt Gentili started a pursuit, reaching 140km/h in a 60km/h zone, as Const. Higgins got priority pursuit authorisation from the local supervisor.

Sgt Gentili is a qualified priority two driver, which allows officers to travel up to 20km/h above the speed limit, but is not allowed to undertake a priority pursuit except in extraordinary circumstances.

The supervisor was not told of Sgt. Gentili's qualifications or that his son was in the back seat.

The motorcyclist, who was wanted by police on other matters, eventually pulled over and is now serving a jail term.

In his sentencing remarks, Magistrate Dean Potter said Sgt Gentili had "in a sense" acted in the course of duty but the pursuit should never have happened.

"I'm still trying to get my head around that you put your 17-year-old son in a police vehicle . . . then embarked upon that pursuit or continued that pursuit," Mr Potter said.

He noted Sgt Gentili had an unblemished record before the incident and had provided "outstanding" service to the WA community over his 18-year career.

The West Australian

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