The driver of a car involved in a hit-and-run on the Western Freeway has avoided prison time, but has been taken off of the road for two years.
The crash came about when police attempted to pull Ebony Punch, 38, over on the freeway after catching her travelling at 120kmh between Gordon and Bungaree.
The 38-year-old Wendouree woman was driving in a Nissan four-wheel drive when the police car pulled up behind her. The officers followed her for one kilometre before hitting traffic.
From there, Punch steered erratically into the the right westbound lane to avoid a slow moving Mitsubishi wagon, side-swiping the vehicle and breaking off the driver's side mirror.
Police then lost sight of Punch's Nissan.
The Nissan continued in the right westbound lane of the freeway until it crashed into the rear of a Hyundai sedan, bursting a rear wheel of the Hyundai and causing damage to the body.
The Nissan continued to veer from the right lane and left the road, hitting a "W" barrier end. The car was thrown further from the road side and collided head-on with a tree.
The original pursuing officer arrived at the crashed Nissan and approached the wreck, which began smoking.
Punch got out of the car through the driver's side door and was bleeding from her forehead and hands.
She told police a man named "James" was the driver of the vehicle, and he left soon after the crash through the passenger door.
Punch was taken to the Ballarat Base Hospital for her injuries. A blood test returned traces of methamphetamine and THC.
A search of the crashed Nissan returned a plastic bag containing a clear crystal substance, a plastic bag containing a green vegetable substance, and two small zip lock bags containing a white crystal powder.
An amount of cash totalling $489.35 was found in the car, believed to be the proceeds of crime.
Punch was interviewed at the hospital by police the following day and made partial admission to possession, but denied being the driver of the Nissan.
At the hearing on Tuesday, November 28, Punch also faced possession and weapons charges related to an arrest at Waurn Ponds, Geelong.
Punch's lawyer told the court her client at the time had been engaged in a "cocktail of drug use", and had since cleaned-up her act through the help of drug and alcohol counselling.
The lawyer said the matter was set to appear before the court at an earlier date, but faced delays due to Punch's failure to respond to court summons.
Magistrate Guillaume Bailin said she narrowly avoided jail time, based on the rehabilitation she had undergone during the two-and-a-half years between the offence and Tuesday's hearing.
"She has an appalling driving history, a continuing and flagrant disregard of the road rules," the magistrate said.
"General deterrence and community protection are paramount... it is but for luck people are not dead.
"The only reason the custody officers are not in the court now is because of what your client (Punch) has done over the past two-and-a-half years."
Punch's licence was disqualified for two years and she was placed on a two year community corrections order with conviction.