After days spent holed up in a share house, Christopher Chandler could hide no longer.
Police arrested the 22-year-old at a Central Coast property on Wednesday – six days after he allegedly led police on a fatal pursuit through a western Sydney suburb.
Chandler was allegedly behind the wheel of a stolen Audi sedan when he ploughed through a fence in Constitution Hill, near Parramatta, last Thursday night.
Toddler Tateolena Tauaifaga was playing on the other side of the fence and suffered fatal injuries.
The girl’s family told Fairfax Media through their lawyer, Ben Archbold, that they “are so relieved he has been found”.
Police will allege they had Chandler under surveillance as part of an armed robbery investigation and were trying to arrest him when he fled.
“The child was killed in their own family backyard when the accused drove through the fence attempting to evade police,” police allege in court documents.
The luxury vehicle was found in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst soon after the chase.
Chandler, who friends and neighbours said grew up in Constitution Hill not far from where 17-month-old Tateolena was hit, had been the subject of a widespread man-hunt until his arrest on Wednesday.
It is understood Chandler had been staying at a share house in Gorokan, which the family of his younger brother’s girlfriend was involved in, when he was arrested.
The brother’s girlfriend and Chandler’s ex-girlfriend were in Wyong Local Court on Thursday when Chandler’s case was mentioned.
But the accused didn’t appear in court or apply for bail and the case was adjourned to March.
The court heard Chandler was already on bail for unrelated offences.
Chandler has been charged with a string of offences over the police pursuit, including manslaughter and aggravated dangerous driving causing death.
Manslaughter carries a maximum punishment of 25 years in jail.
Chandler is also accused of causing bodily harm to another young child when his car allegedly ploughed through the Tauaifaga’s back fence.
A critical incident investigation is looking into the role police played in the fatal pursuit.
Chandler’s ex-girlfriend said he would be devastated by what had happened.
“I think it’s really sad because if that was my child I would be devastated, I would be beside myself,” she said outside court.
“I think he would be devastated as well.”
She described Chandler as one of the nicest guys she had ever been with.
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