A drug driver crashed into another car while speeding on a highway in heavy rain to evade police, causing it to smash into a third car, a court has heard.
Jarrod Hancock, 20, pleaded guilty to 13 charges at the Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, appearing in court supported by his mother.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Ben Jones said the offences dated back to 2017 and included theft, criminal damage and contravening bail conditions.
Hancock stole liquor from a store in Gisborne twice in 2018 and items from Myer in Ballarat he said he stole for himself as a birthday present in 2019.
One theft charge relates to when he put $400 to 4500 worth of meat in his school backpack at Woolworths in Sebastopol and was chased out of the store by staff.
You put a lot of other road users at risk, speeding in the rain and as an inexperienced driver.Magistrate Letizia Torres
The most serious offending was in February 2020 when police saw him in an outstanding stolen car in a McDonald's carpark in Corio.
The court heard Hancock sped off when he saw police, crossed three lanes of traffic on Princes Highway, drove through a red light and at an estimated 110km/h in an 80km/h zone.
Senior Constable Jones said it was raining heavily at the time and visibility was low.
Police followed Hancock from a distance before he lost control of the car, crashed into the back of another car and pushed it into a third car, causing damage to all three.
The court heard he tried to run away and hid in bushes before police approached and he surrendered.
The driver of the first car hit suffered injuries to the head and leg.
Hancock was also taken to hospital and told staff he had been one three day ice bender and had taken the drug that morning.
A defence lawyer said she accepted the driving would have been terrifying for the people on the road.
She said Hancock was a young man and there had been a lot of improvements in his behaviour and situation since the offending.
The court heard he was now living with his mother, there had been no further offending and he had completed a nine-day drug detox stay last year.
The lawyer submitted Hancock would benefit from a community corrections order and support around 'relapse prevention'.
Magistrate Letizia Torres said this sort of driving would ordinarily result in a person being sent to jail, but it was a last resort for youthful offenders.
"You put a lot of other road users at risk, speeding in the rain and as an inexperienced driver," she said.
"You are lucky you didn't more seriously injure someone or yourself."
Hancock will be assessed for a community corrections order and will return to court for sentencing later in May.
He was disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay the money back to the shops for the thefts.
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