A man who drove almost 100km/h directly at police officers had been awake for more than two weeks in a drug-induced psychosis, a court has heard.
Michael Kovac, 38, was on bail at the time when he refused to stop on police direction, drove dangerously around Ballarat while followed by a police helicopter and drove directly at police.
Crown prosecutor Ffyona Livingstone Clark said Kovac was driving with two passengers in the Black Hill area at 10pm on February 10, 2020.
The court heard he stopped, told one of the passengers to get out of the car and said 'I have a feeling things are about to get hectic'.
Two police officers were conducting traffic duties in a highway patrol vehicle when they saw Kovac's car parked and it was flagged as being registered to an unlicensed driver.
Police officers like in this case are sick and tired of having their lives put on the line by people like your client, so the legislation has become very tough.Judge Gabriele Cannon
Ms Livingstone Clark said Kovac began to drive away when police approached and he sped away erratically, swerving from side to side to avoid interception when police activated their lights and sirens.
The court heard the police officers pulled out of the pursuit to allow the air-wing to monitor Kovac, so they pulled over and deactivated their lights.
The officers saw Kovac drive at 110km/h in an 80km/h zone, veering on to the wrong side of the road, before he began driving back toward the police car at 98km/h.
Ms Livingstone Clark said Kovac drove head on toward the police vehicle and police were in fear they would have been killed or injured if he had hit their car.
The court heard the air-wing continued to monitor Kovac as he drove erratically through Wendouree to Central Ballarat, avoiding further police attempts to intercept him.
A police officer positioned tyre deflation devices on Scott Parade, that ultimately caused Kovac to stop driving after he accelerated and revved down the street.
Kovac and his passenger ran from the car and police later found him in the rear yard of the Ballarat Bowling Club, where he was taken to the ground and handcuffed after resisting arrest.
Kovac pleaded guilty at the County Court of Victoria on Monday to intentionally exposing an emergency worker to risk by driving and dangerous driving while pursued by police.
He is also charged with resisting an emergency worker, committing an offence while on bail, unlicensed driving and driving on drugs.
Defence barrister Emily Clark said Kovac was released from prison in April 2019 after serving a seven year sentence for attacking a 91-year-old woman in her home during a robbery with his father.
She said Kovac had relapsed back into methamphetamine use in October 2019 after a relationship with one of his three teenage children broke down again.
The court heard Kovac had been charged and bailed for theft and drug possession in January 28 2020, just two weeks before he drove at police.
Ms Clark read a letter written by Kovac to the court, revealing he was high on ice and had been awake for almost two weeks in a drug induced psychosis on the night of the offending.
In the letter, Kovac said he had lost almost everyone in his life, had an anxiety attack behind the wheel of the car and made a 'poor choice' not to stop for police because of his state of mind.
He said he did not wish to hurt anybody, he was 'extremely remorseful' and the events of the night haunted him in his sleep.
Judge Gabriele Cannon questioned Ms Clark about Kovac's comment 'things were about to get hectic' and his decision to drive at police.
Ms Clark said his conduct was consistent with his drug induced psychosis and that he struggled to determine what was true and what was not at that point in time.
"This was not someone who was thinking clearly at the time," she said.
"One of the things that was playing in his mind was the idea of going back into custody.
"The drugs, psychosis, lack of sleep, all of those things interplayed to pose a risk to police."
Judge Cannon said she accepted Kovac was acting in an anxious, psychotic state when he drove at police who were 'just trying to do their job'.
"Thanks to the quick actions of police nobody was harmed," she said.
"Police officers like in this case are sick and tired of having their lives put on the line by people like your client, so the legislation has become very tough."
Kovac will remain in custody and return to court on September 8 for sentencing.
The maximum sentence for exposing an emergency worker to risk by driving is 20 years' imprisonment.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.