Boy, 9, caught taking early morning joyride on highway

SWERVING on to the wrong side of the highway and barely able to see over the steering wheel, a nine-year-old boy stunned onlookers as he took a Toyota Sedan for a joyride.

St George police Senior Sergeant Dan Gallagher has dealt with plenty of drunk drivers and erratic motorists in his 28 years with the service, but never a child operating a car - until last Tuesday.

The nine-year-old was the sole occupant of the car when he went for a joy ride along the typically busy Carnavon Hwy-Grey St thoroughfare through St George at 6am before quick-thinking bystanders stepped in.

Snr Sgt Gallagher told the Balonne Beacon the incident was not a case of child's play and could have had a deadly ending.

"A nine-year-old driving, particularly on Grey St, which is ultimately the highway, is a situation that could have very easily turned into a serious crash, if not fatal," he said.

"The quick thinking of these community members saved the day.

"When the boy pulled over outside a residence, the good Samaritans removed the keys and called the police."

The Year 4 student could barely see over the steering wheel as he travelled along the highway, a first-time incident for Snr-Sgt Gallagher and his team.

"He obviously wasn't in a position to be able to have proper control of a vehicle," he said.

"We arrived a short time later at the house where the vehicle was left.

"The detectives and I were able to locate the child and dealt with him at that point."

The boy was dealt with under provisions of The Youth Justice Act, 1992 and, due to the age of the boy, no charges would be laid.

"Our priority is to support the family and ensure behaviours like this don't continue," Snr-Sgt Gallagher said.

"My message to parents is to secure things like car keys and wallets, just so that there is no temptation.

"These kinds of incidents are out-of-the-ordinary and are reasonably traumatic for police and for the children and family involved."