A Shepparton man has been jailed after a series of dangerous driving incidents left several people in fear of their lives.
Simranjeet Singh, 28, appeared in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday, pleading guilty to a number of charges including engaging in conduct driving a motor vehicle that placed persons in danger of serious injury or death.
The charges relate to a series of incidents on Saturday, January 12, this year where the accused rammed several cars in broad daylight and police chased him through the streets of Shepparton.
Victim impact statements read to the court highlighted the fear experienced on the day, including one family whose car was rammed multiple times.
In the vehicle was a mother and her daughter, 16, and son, 8. They were not known to Singh.
‘‘I have nightmares about what happened to us,’’ the mother’s statement read.
‘‘I have lost a lot of confidence and won’t even go through the intersection where the crime occurred.’’
Singh collided with the rear of a vehicle on Sobraon St, pushing it into the path of oncoming traffic on Wyndham St.
Fearing for the children’s safety, the victim tried to drive away from the accused, turning onto Wyndham St, heading south towards the KFC where the vehicle was rammed further.
The family ran into the KFC and hid in the manager’s office as they were afraid the accused was trying to follow them.
‘‘I felt totally powerless knowing that my little boy was in the back seat screaming for help and I couldn’t do anything to help him,’’ the mother’s statement read.
‘‘It makes me feel horrible, angry, frustrated and sad that my son’s innocence has been destroyed.
‘‘This is a memory I will have to live with forever.’’
Singh then continued along Wyndham St, colliding with the vehicle of another family that was transporting three girls, aged 17, 12 and 6.
Approached about five minutes later by two police officers at the Riverside Plaza car park, Singh suddenly reversed, striking one of the officers before taking off north along Wyndham St at speeds in excess of 80km/h, weaving between traffic.
The court heard Singh travelled at speeds of 100km/h to 120km/h along Numurkah Rd and was seen waving a metal bar out of the window, before turning left onto Barmah-Shepparton Rd.
The car began to smoke and lost speed before coming to a stop near McClelland Rd.
The court heard Singh resisted arrest and and officers deployed capsicum spray through the open passenger side window.
Singh was taken to Shepparton Police Station and then Goulburn Valley Health, where a blood analysis showed no prosecutable levels of alcohol or drugs in the sample.
Singh’s lawyer Patrick Rose said the accused had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia since being remanded in custody 131 days ago over the offences. Psychiatric reports were also tendered to the court.
Mr Rose said Singh had little memory of events that occurred on the day and was acting on instruction from a number of voices.
‘‘Mr Singh is unwell,’’ Mr Rose said. ‘‘He is proactively seeking support for mental health issues.’’
Mr Rose said incarceration was not good for his client’s mental wellbeing and hoped the time already served was just.
Magistrate John Murphy said he understood Mr Rose’s concerns, but he needed to consider the plight of the victims.
‘‘Someone could have been killed or seriously injured... I’ve got to take into account those victims,’’ he said.
‘‘The penalty today would have been far greater if you hadn’t have been affected by severe mental illness at the time.’’
Singh was sentenced to two years in prison with a non-parole period of 12 months.
The sentence consisted of 18 months’ jail for charges relating to the dangerous driving and six months for a number of separate offences before the court.
They included a burglary, resist arrest and possession of ice at Ardmona in September last year, a burglary at a Shepparton address in December last year, and charges of theft and being drunk in a public place in north Shepparton the same month.