Learner driver reached speeds of 198km/k in Stawell to Melbourne pursuit

A Ballarat magistrate has told a learner driver he was lucky to be alive after he reached speeds of almost 200km/h to flee police arrest.

Harley James Pearson fled police in a Ford Falcon for more than 200 kilometres from Stawell to Boundary Road, near the West Gate Freeway. 

A court document states police tried to stop Pearson driving in Stawell on August 9 after he was detected travelling 118km/h with a passenger.

But Pearson continued driving east bound towards Ararat. At one point on the Western Highway, he pulled out to pass a truck when there was a B-double coming the other way, narrowly missing a head-on collision.

Police disengaged from the vehicle after travelling through Ararat due to Pearson’s erratic driving. Between Modesty Lane and Dobsons Road at Brewster, Pearson was clocked at travelling 198km/h, the court document states.

Pearson was travelling at 143km/h on Weighbridge Road, Windermere, and a police attempt to deploy stop sticks was unsuccessful.

The police helicopter observed the vehicle near Bacchus Marsh and was travelling at a constant 130km/h to 140km/h.

The learner driver was arrested at a service station near the Boundary Road exit.

Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt told Pearson at Ballarat Magistrates Court on Friday his conduct was appalling.

“Your conduct on Wednesday during this manner of evading police was incredibly dangerous and you are lucky to be alive,” Mr Klestadt said.

“It takes very little imagination to see you would have died had there been a collision with any other vehicle.”

Defence lawyer Mike Wardell said his client had a borderline intellectual disability. He said Pearson lost focus and could not remember things easily.

Pearson, who turned 24 on Friday, pleaded guilty to four charges, including recklessly engaging in conduct that placed a person in danger of death. He was banned for driving for two years. He was released on bail to be assessed for a community corrections order and justice plan.