A Wollongong magistrate has flat-out rejected claims Instagram star Margarita Tomovska was acting under duress from her "dangerous" male passenger when she lead police on a high-speed chase along the Princes Highway last year.
Tomovska and the male, Christopher King, were arrested at gunpoint by Strike Force Raptor officers on the evening of November 13 after Tomovska hit speeds of up to 230km/h as she tried to evade police in her $450,000 dark silver Mercedes AMG.
A three-year-old child inadequately restrained in the back of the car at the time.
Tomovska pleaded not guilty to a police pursuit charge, telling a hearing in Wollongong Local Court on Friday that her actions had been borne out of her fear of Mr King, who was directing her movements during the pursuit.
"I was scared he was going to do something to me if I didn't do what he said," she told the court.
The claim came just moments after Tomovska told the court she'd known King "for a week, max" and was not romantically involved with him, but had agreed to ferry him around (he didn't have a licence) for the sole reason that she "loved to drive".
On the evening of November 13 - her third excursion with King since they'd met - she had agreed to drive him to Wollongong so he could meet with a friend.
She said he ordered her to stay in the vehicle. It was on their return drive to Sydney that Strike Force Raptor officers began following the Mercedes.
The court heard King was the gangs squad's target, with police intelligence reports suggesting he had links to firearms and there may be one in the car.
Highway patrol officer Nathan Grant and his off-sider, Senior Constable Joel Tuma, followed the Mercedes along the highway for about 10 minutes (during which time the car was travelling up to 30km/h under the 100km/h speed limit) before activating their lights and sirens in a bid to pull the vehicle over.
Tomovska told the court on Friday she and King knew they were being followed and that he'd directed her to indicate into the brake-down lane to "see what they [police] would do".
You said you were worried about what he might do to you - so why didn't you just stop? The police were right there.
Footage from the police vehicle's on-board camera shows the Mercedes accelerate away as soon as the police car lit up.
Tomovska claims King yelled at her "whatever you do, do not stop".
"He was telling me what to do ... I was just focusing on the road," Tomovska said of the pursuit.
"I was scared if I didn't [obey] him I was going to so something to me."
Officers who apprehended Tomovska and King at gunpoint have revealed they did not expect to find Tomovska in the car, nor the child, but believed there may have been a gun inside the vehicle.
In-car footage of the arrest shows Senior Constable Nathan Grant approach the driver's side of the vehicle with his weapon drawn and pointing at Tomovska.
"Stop! Put your hands on your heads, hands on your heads! Do not do anything, do not talk, quiet, hands on your heads!" Snr Cst Grant can be heard yelling at Tomovska as his partner, Snr Cost Tuma, does the same at the passenger side of the car.
Snr Cst Tuma and two other police took King to the ground and handcuffed him, while Snr Cst Grant asked Tomovska why she was travelling at 200km/h and had not pulled over.
"Because I got scared," Tomovska replied.
"How can you go that fast with a baby in the car?" Snr Cst Grant asked incredulously.
"You just went 200km/h in a pursuit with a [child] in the car.
"Can you give me a legitimate reason that you were involved in a high-speed pursuit with me today?
"No," Tomovska replied.
Meanwhile, police searched the vehicle but did not uncover any weapons. A search along the freeway uncovered a gun magazine in bushland.
King has not been charged with any offences in relation to the incident.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Amelia Wall subjected Tomovska to extensive cross examination in court on Friday, identifying several holes in the 28-year-old's story.
For a start, Tomovska was unable to recall any threats or actions King had supposedly done to frighten her - other than raise his voice at the start of the pursuit.
Secondly, she had Tomovska admit that it was her decision to drive at such a high speed with a child in the car.
Most importantly, Sgt Wall pointed out that Tomovska had ample opportunity to tell police about her supposed fear of King, but had failed to do so.
"You said you were worried about what he might do to you - so why didn't you just stop? The police were right there," Sgt Wall asked Tomovska.
"I panicked," Tomovska replied.
"You were specifically asked about Mr King during your police interview and you said nothing," Sgt Wall said.
"Yes, because I was scared. I had to go home with him. He'd booked me an Uber and I was going back to his place. I knew he'd ask questions."
Magistrate Susan McGowan could barely contain her derision when rejecting Tomovska's evidence from the witness box on Friday.
"I feel as if my intelligence has been affronted," she said.
"That's how unbelievable it all is.
"In my view there's absolutely no evidence to support her claims."
Magistrate McGowan said there was no evidence before the court that Tomovska knew King was being watched by Raptor police, nor that she knew he to be a "dangerous person", as police had described him in their evidence in court.
"I'm of the view that the Crown has disproven distress [as a defence]," she said.
"It's obvious Ms Tomovska could have told police at a later time what had happened
"She had many opportunities to tell the story but didn't avail herself of that opportunity until today.
"In my view there's no evidence whatsoever of duress."
She found Tomovska guilty of the police pursuit.
Tomovska will face sentencing in October.