‘Completely unprovoked’: Details emerge on Ballarat police ramming

Police search for Adam Sandlant. Picture: Kate Healy
Police search for Adam Sandlant. Picture: Kate Healy

A man who rammed a police car and injured a sergeant before sparking a manhunt across Ballarat is facing jail time, a court has been told.

Adam Sandlant, 40, pleaded guilty to multiple charges at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Wednesday including dangerous driving while being pursued by police, failing to stop a vehicle on police direction and criminal damage by fire following the rampage on the afternoon of June 8 last year.

Magistrate Gregory Robinson found the father had come from a supportive family and lived a good life until it spiralled out of control when his marriage broke down and he started doing drugs, saying “the message needs to be: don’t take ice”.

Adam Sandlant.

Adam Sandlant.

“Where the drug impacts on the community by (him) engaging in such risky criminal behaviour – I think there must be a response by the courts that places an emphasis on general deterrence,” he said.

“I think the message should be that if you put ice into your body there is a very good chance this is what is going to result from it.”

The court was told Sandlant was driving a stolen Holden Rodeo on Howitt Street when he suddenly rammed into an oncoming police car in a “completely unprovoked” attack before fleeing the scene.

Paramedics transported the sergeant to Ballarat Base Hospital as a police helicopter and the dog squad were called to track down Sandlant as he led police on a wild chase through quiet suburban streets in Ballarat East, doing speeds of 120km/h in a 60km/h zone. 

He drove into bushland in Canadian and became bogged before torching the Rodeo and running under tree cover, desperately texting his girlfriend and friends as darkness fell.

Police scoured the area for hours but he had found a place to hide and the search was called off. 

It remains unclear where Sandlant went before he was arrested days later at a house in Wendouree.

In court, Sandlant’s defence lawyer Simon Kenny initially pushed for a non-custodial sentence to be imposed, but police prosecutors rejected this, saying “an attack on the police is an attack on the community”.

Mr Kenny conceded it was serious criminal offending, but he argued it was in the interests of not just Sandlant but also the community for the court to place an emphasis on his rehabilitation in the hope he would not re-offend.

Mr Robinson indicated he would likely sentence Sandlant to a term of imprisonment but he also ordered him to be assessed for a community corrections order.

Sandlant, who was supported in court by his partner and parents, will be sentenced at a later date.