UPDATE, August 1:
A teenager who rammed another car while driving up Armstrong and Sturt streets will remain in jail for at least another three months.
Last week, 19-year-old Fletcher McGuire pleaded guilty at the County Court in Ballarat to 11 charges, including conduct endangering serious injury and possessing a traffickable quantity of firearms.
Judge Sarah Leighfield, in sentencing on Monday, noted McGuire had been assessed as suitable for a community corrections order, but she was not satisfied the 205 days he had served on remand was sufficient for his "mini-crime spree".
The charges related to three days in January 2022, where McGuire and his co-accused stole a Land Cruiser and caravan in Maroona, which had a bank card inside, before stealing petrol and paying for cigarettes with the stolen card.
He also participated in two burglaries, stealing cash and four firearms, before the incident on January 8, where he tried to buy a ute off a man.
The ute's engine blew up, so he and his co-accused went to the seller's address and chased them through Ballarat, ramming their vehicle several times before fleeing to Wendouree, where they were arrested.
"The many people contacting Triple-Zero (indicates) your conduct would have been a cause of great concern," she said.
"Your driving was atrocious and dangerous, and continued for an extended period of time in the centre of Ballarat."
The court was told three of the four stolen firearms had been recovered.
Judge Leighfeld said she accepted McGuire's early plea as an indication of remorse.
"The combination of your young age, limited prior history, your insight into your offending, your previous commitment to treatment and rehabilitation, your family support, stable accommodation, and ongoing employment, give me optimism despite seriousness of offending that brings you before me," she said, noting references had been provided from McGuire's father and employer.
She also said parity in sentence with his co-accused would be difficult, as some had plead guilty to lesser charges or were contesting the matters.
McGuire was sentenced to 10 months prison, with 205 days already served, to be followed by an 18-month community corrections order.
He will have to complete rehabilitation and drug treatment, and will be banned from associating with any of the co-accused and from driving for six months.
He would have been sentenced to two years and four months, with an 18-month non-parole period, if he had not pleaded guilty.
PREVIOUSLY, July 27:
A teenager who descended into ice addiction and ended up in a CBD ramming in broad daylight began his slide with a fateful step away from the family home, a court was told.
Fletcher McGuire, 19, appeared in the County Court via video link from prison facing charges including home invasion, aggravated burglary, recklessly causing injury and conduct endangering life relating to a crime spree over two days in January this year.
On January 6 about 3.30am, McGuire - with three co-accused - stole a Toyota Landcruiser, NAB Bank card and Jayco Outback Caravan from a property in Maroona, about 15 minutes outside of Ararat. They drove off and the caravan was detached and left a short time later.
Over the course of the morning, McGuire stole petrol from a petrol station in Ararat, and used the stolen card to purchase packs of cigarettes, a lighter and petrol from service stations in Mitchell Park and more cigarettes from 7/11 in Alfredton.
The court also heard McGuire was disqualified from driving at the time.
Days later, on January 8, McGuire and an unidentified male entered an unlocked granny flat and shed in Haven, a suburb just outside Horsham, about 1.30am and stole $45,000 in cash.
They also stole a number of tools and weapons from the property including an angle grinder, drill and handsaw and an Adler 12-gauge shotgun, Winchester 12-gauge shotgun, Winchester .22 rifle and Norica .177 air rifle.
Later that morning at some time before 7am, the pair entered a property in Horsham and stole tobacco, two chainsaws valued at $2700 and a portable speaker worth $599.
The accused was identified by his fingerprints at both properties.
The court heard about 8am McGuire met a friend of a friend at Dazzlers Car Wash in Ballarat to purchase a vehicle he was selling.
McGuire bought the car for $5000 in cash, and drove away, only to have the engine fail a short time later.
The court heard he contacted the seller and requested his money back, and when the seller did not comply, McGuire and his co-accused went to the seller's mother's home in the stolen Landcruiser.
They then chased the seller and his brother in the Landcruiser as they drove throughout Ballarat, 'dangerously' tailgating their vehicle, ramming while it was in motion twice along Armstrong and Sturt streets and 'causing significant damage'.
McGuire was arrested later that afternoon at a Dover Street address in Wendouree after police received information about the stolen Landcruiser.
Defence for McGuire told the court his drug use began when he moved out of his parents' home and in with a partner in his first romantic relationship.
"You can see he's come from a very good background," the defence said.
"His girlfriend's brother was a heavy ice user ... he was in a job, living with someone ... and being exposed to peers who were using ice regularly.
"Without the protective factors of his parents' home ... he quickly deviated in addiction to methylamphetamine."
His defence also said his diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) gave context to the offending.
"Probably the most serious offending [relates] to the driving and the ramming of the vehicle, that occurs in the context that a substantial amount of money ... was paid earlier in what was presumably good faith for a car that proved to be a lemon," the defence said.
"The impulsivity, immature responses to those situations, especially those situations ... he was quick to get angry ... his behaviour was reflective of that anger and that immaturity."
McGuire's defence called for a combination sentence of time served and a community corrections order - which means McGuire could be monitored and supported while living in the community.
He said the teen needed support until he matured, "especially in response to his choices in peers and his use of methylamphetamine", previously responding well to support under past bail conditions.
"He remained abstinent and complied with orders of his youth bail and continued to work until the holiday season came along," the defence said.
"It appears that time on his hands, lacking the regiment of work, lacking the responsibility of having something to do, he met up with his old associates and fell back into the throes of his ice use."
Prosecution for the Crown said the most serious offending was the "atrocious" ramming.
"The conduct itself may be arising from a [dispute] from the sale of a car ... and it ends up at the intersection of the main street of Ballarat," the prosecution said.
"It was dangerous conduct over a period of time effectively in the centre in Ballarat and it was seen by a number of people ... it is atrocious behaviour and it is the most serious offending."
The prosecution agreed a combination sentence was open and McGuire required support in relation to his drug use.
"That takes into account the accused is a young offender and that is not to suggest he does not have prospects of rehabilitation ... although the ball is in his court," the prosecution said.
Judge Sarah Leighfield ordered McGuire's assessment for suitability for community corrections order.
Speaking directly to the teen, she said the assessment did not mean he might not spend more time in jail.
"What I want you to understand is I'm very much minded to give you time in custody and a community corrections order - it doesn't mean you will be released on Monday," she said.
"Don't have any expectations."
The matter will return to court next week.
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