Ballarat addict led chases, court told

A BALLARAT man has been released on bail despite allegations he led police on two high-speed chases and has an expensive ice addiction.

With dreadlocks and a beard, Benjamin Raymond Martin, 24, appeared in the dock of Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday where he faces 23 charges, including reckless conduct endangering serious injury, driving in a manner dangerous, burglary, theft and weapons offences.

Detective Senior Constable Troy Wickam gave evidence during the hearing, claiming Martin was addicted to ice and had committed crimes to fund the habit.

He said Martin had also led police on two high-speed pursuits, including one in Ballarat less than a fortnight ago.

He said Martin had a 14-year-old girl in the car when he allegedly ignored police requests to pull over in Wendouree on the evening of November 8, instead speeding out towards the Western Highway.

Police claimed Martin reached speeds of over 180km/h during the chase and narrowly avoided a crash before giving himself up.

He has been in custody ever since.

It was said that during a separate incident in Castlemaine last month Martin reached speeds of 180km/h in a 50km/h zone.

Detective Wickam said Martin had committed petrol drive-offs at just about every service station in Ballarat in the past eight weeks, as well as a series of burglaries and thefts around the city.

Among his alleged victims was the Coronet Street Breakfast Bar, the Buninyong Car Wash and JJs Car Wash.

Defence lawyer David Tamanika said his client wasn’t an unacceptable risk of re-offending if he received drug and alcohol counselling. 

He said the credit bail program, along with strict reporting conditions, could mitigate any risks while helping his client avoid substance abuse.

Magistrate Andrew Capell acknowledged Martin’s drug habit was “out of control”, but granted bail on the condition he received treatment.

Martin is due back in court on December 18.

He is yet to enter a plea.

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