The West

Premier Colin Barnett has defended the right of police to pursue suspects in road chases, as the officer involved in a fatal crash after a pursuit was stood down from operational duties.

Colin Barnett said that while last week’s fatal pursuit in Dianella was a tragedy, law and order had to be maintained on Perth’s streets.

“The tragedy that occurred and the loss of life last week was a very sad situation and it’s the first chance I’ve had to extend my sympathy to the family,” Mr Barnett said today.

“But the police must retain the right to maintain law and order in our community, including on the streets, and if we had a policy of not having police chases you would have absolute pandemonium and extremely dangerous situations on our roads.

“So while this dreadful tragedy occurred, again, I support the right of police to make those decisions, to pursue people who are speeding, driving dangerously and putting the public at risk.”

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said today that there was no issue around the authorisation of the pursuit that ended with a fatal crash in which a 50-year-old woman died.

He said the question was whether charges needed to be laid against the driver.

Sirens were clearly audible on a tape when the police called for authorisation to continue the pursuit, he said.

He admitted the car involved was not the ideal kind for use in pursuits.

He said the officer driving had been stood aside from operational duties pending an investigation.

Mr O'Callaghan said Police Minister Rob Johnson was looking at adding circumstances of aggravation to charges for those who steal cars and are pursued in order to make penalties more serious.

Police, Mirrabooka detectives and Tactical Response Group officers today arrested a man wanted over last week's stolen car chase in Dianella.

Insp. Paul Kosovich said officers stormed the house in Tauranga Retreat in the early hours of this morning and a 41-year-old wanted over the theft of the Audi was apprehended.

Sharon Ann D'Ercole, 50, was killed and her 16-year-old daughter Lashay was injured when gang crime squad officers chasing the stolen Audi in a Ford Territory ran a red light and crashed into her Toyota Corolla at the intersection of Alexander and Morley drives about 11am on April 12.

Mrs D'Ercole's funeral will be held on Tuesday at the Infant Jesus Parish in Morley.

Lashay D'Ercole was released from hospital on Monday and according to a statement from her family this morning: "She is recovering well at home and is coping as well as can be expected, surrounded by family and friends."

"Our family continues to be touched by the ongoing condolences and offers of support from the public," a family spokesman said.

The accused Mindarie man will appear in Perth Magistrates Court today charged with stealing a motor vehicle, 13 counts of fraud, driving without a licence and breach of bail.

Another man, allegedly involved in the theft of the Audi, was charged last week with stealing a motor vehicle and criminal damage by fire. The 21-year-old Maylands man was remanded to appear in Stirling Gardens Magistrate's Court on May 2.

Police today have called for the driver of a blue sedan to contact police.

The driver was travelling south on Alexander Drive at the time of the crash.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The West Australian

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