A CONCERNED citizen with a keen ear for listening to police activity proved vital in catching a man who led police on a two-hour high-speed chase, a court has heard.
Appearing in the Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday, Glenroy man Toufic Tlais pleaded guilty to a string of charges and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, with a minimum sentence of 12 months.
The court heard the 30-year-old had driven at more than 120km/h above the speed limit during the chase on February 2, before he was eventually arrested at Waubra.
Having evaded capture for more than two hours, a triple zero call from somebody who recognised his stolen vehicle after listening to a scanner helped police locate the fugitive.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Ivan Blomeley told the court Tlais was first spotted by police in Stawell, where the chase was sparked.
Tlais, a father of four, was driving a 2010 model Ford sedan he had stolen from the Hertz rental car compound.
Senior Constable Blomeley said the accused soon reached estimated speeds “well in excess of 200km/h” before the chase was terminated due to concerns about public safety.
Tlais continued to evade police, at one stage reaching a speed of 196km/h in a 70km/h zone, despite puncturing his tyres on police stop sticks.
The police air wing was called to help locate him, but he continued to remain undetected.
A call from a member of the public then enabled police to locate Tlais, after he had abandoned his car on the Sunraysia Highway and fled into paddocks.
Police found him hiding behind a shed and were forced to use capsicum spray to subdue him.
Defence lawyer Scott Belcher said despite a recent history of offending, in which Tlais had faced a number of theft and drug charges, his client did not have a lengthy criminal history.
Mr Belcher also said his client was going through a bitter separation with his former partner.
“He’s very depressed and upset at the moment as part of the separation with his partner,” he said.
“He now concedes it would have been easier to pull over and give in to police.”
In sentencing, magistrate Michelle Hodgson said the excessive speeds reached by Tlais were unacceptable and that he placed a number of lives at high risk. “Actions like these place not just yourself, but other members of the community in great danger,” she said.
Tlais pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including negligent driving while pursued by police, driving in a dangerous manner, theft of a motor vehicle, theft of petrol, exceeding the speed limit and other traffic and drug offences.