A Ballarat man who jumped into a stranger's ute at Stockland Wendouree during daylight hours and put his hands around the driver's throat will get more prison time.
Lee Dunbar, 42, appeared in the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged with making threats to kill and two counts of unlawful assault.
Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Clint Prebble told the court that on November 20 last year, Dunbar was "punching the air and doing squats for no apparent reason" at the shopping centre at 2pm.
Dunbar approached a victim and ranted, before threatening her with a stick that had a blade attached he had pulled from his hat. Police said he told the victim, "Do I need to slash you up, do I need to kill you?"
The man then ran off and tried to get into the back seat of an Isuzu. The victim behind the wheel panicked and drove a short distance, dragging Dunbar along next to the ute.
Dunbar then climbed into the ute's backseat after it had stopped, and "put his arm around the victim's neck and throat". While the accused was in the ute, another victim approached to check on the victims. The accused stepped out of the ute, before shoving the bystander, where they fell to the ground.
The accused told police he was using methamphetamine, and had no memory of the incident.
Leading Senior Constable Prebble said in statements to police, the victims said they felt "shaken" and believed Dunbar could have killed them and "not even known".
Defence lawyer Simon Tan said Dunbar had himself been the victim of an armed robbery in 2015, and had engaged with a methadone program to address his drug addiction while in custody.
He argued the man should be sentenced with time served, having spent 119 days in pre-sentence detention, and given a community corrections order.
But Magistrate Michelle Mykytowycz disagreed, telling the court it must have been an "extraordinarily frightening experience" for the victims.
"When he is clean, he does demonstrate the capacity to have some insight into his own reasons for drug use," she said. "This is significant and serious offending that does warrant a term of imprisonment more than the 119 days".
Dunbar will return to court on May 22 for sentencing.