A man who sent pedestrians fleeing for their lives as he drove a car down Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall did so out of panic, a court has been told.
Bryce O’Donnell sat quietly through Thursday’s proceedings as Melbourne Magistrates Court was told of the dangerous runaway chase in one of Melbourne’s busiest pedestrian districts earlier this year.
Camera IconBryce O’Donnell (pictured) has pleaded guilty to a dangerous car altercation where he drove down the Bourke Street Mall, endangering passengers and police alike. Credit: Supplied
Shocking footage captured O’Donnell, 20, speeding down Swanson Street in a green Mitsubishi Lancer on January 28 as terrified pedestrians ducked for cover.
His legal aid lawyer said the incident “no doubt” conjured up images of the horrifying vehicular attack by James Gargasoulas, who killed six people in the Bourke Street Mall in 2017.
O’Donnell’s told the court O’Donnell’s offending was “out of panic” and he was on bail at the time.
She said he was not allowed to drive as part of his bail conditions at the time.
“He had no intention of hurting anyone,” O’Donnell’s lawyer said.
Camera IconFootage of the green Mitsubishi Lancer being driven by O’Donnell down Swanson Street, only to have his path blocked by two trams and police. Credit: Supplied
O’Donnell pleaded guilty to a raft of charges, including reckless conduct endangering serious injury, dangerous driving while being pursued by police and failing to stop a vehicle on police direction.
The court was told O’Donnell was seen driving a Mitsubishi Lancer with distinctive green wheels down the no-vehicle zone on Swanson Street just after 4.50pm.
Police attempted to intercept the car but it turned into the Bourke Street are and drove down the tram tracks at speed.
O’Donnell was blocked by two trams in the mall.
As he performed a handbrake turn, he lost control and spun around hitting a bollard.
A passenger in his car exited and ran into a nearby H&M clothing store.
Camera IconThe court was told police lost sight of O’Donnell after he reversed and drove back up Swanson Street after hitting a bollard while trying to evade officers. Credit: Supplied
Officers lost sight of O’Donnell after he drove back up Swanson Street and out of the mall.
At 6.40pm, the Lancer was found in an underground car park with no registration plates.
The vehicle had been wiped down with vegetable oil and no prints could be obtained through forensic analysis.
O’Donnell was arrested several days later at an associate’s house.
Camera IconO’Donnell (pictured) will learn his fate on Friday after the court was adjourned to allow a community corrections order to be prepared. Credit: Supplied
The court was told O’Donnell had a mild intellectual disability that impacted his ability to think clearly and understand the consequences of his actions.
His lawyer said her client had struggled with substance abuse since his mid-teens and had little employment experience.
His time on remand had been harsher due to the coronavirus lockdowns limiting his access to prison courses and activity.
Magistrate Stella Stuthridge adjourned O’Donnell’s sentencing to allow a community corrections order assessment.Internet Explorer Channel Network