A young Koonawarra man who allegedly led police on a dangerous high-speed chase through Warrawong before setting the car on fire has been granted bail.
Ricki Cochran, 25, fronted Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday to apply for release after being in custody for about three months.
Documents tendered to court said Lake Illawarra officers were conducting high visibility patrols in the Warrawong area about 10.45am on January 19 this year when they saw a driver, allegedly Cochran, not stop at a give way sign and almost collide with the marked police car on Northcliffe Drive.
The white Toyota Camry came to a stop about 1.5 metres from the police car which had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
Police observed the driver, who was alone, to be Caucasian, in his mid 20s, wearing a mask around his neck and a black hooded jumper.
Cochran allegedly started driving at speed in a westerly direction towards Berkeley.
Police were alerted the hire car may be driven by Cochran, who was wanted on four outstanding warrants.
Police pursued the car under lights and sirens and saw Cochran allegedly driving above the signposted 50km/h speed limit.
"The vehicle turned right into Jackson Avenue," the documents said.
"Police followed however were not able to close the distance to the vehicle due to its excessive speed.
"Police observed it turning left onto Barbara Avenue where they lost sight of it and the pursuit was terminated."
A short time later officers spotted the car along Flagstaff Road, Lake Heights before it did a sudden U-turn and drove away quickly.
The car was not pursued as the area was residential with narrow winding streets.
Police were notified a white Toyota Camry had crashed into a retaining wall in Jane Avenue and the male driver had fled on foot.
Officers rushed to the location, confirming it was the same car earlier involved in the alleged pursuit, with smoke coming from the engine, which was still running.
A search of the area was conducted but the driver - who neighbours described as wearing red running shoes, black track pants, black hooded jumper, short brown hair and in his early 20s - could not be located and it was eventually called off.
A crime scene examination of the car was carried out where fingerprints and DNA were collected.
Later that day, after police left the scene, there was a report the car had been set alight.
A Bunnings Warehouse and Warrawong Commonwealth Bank receipt were located inside the car. Police attended both stores, and Warrawong Plaza, to seize CCTV footage.
Police allege the vision from the plaza, which was captured minutes before the pursuit, identified a man in his mid 20s wearing the same clothes as described by the Jane Avenue neighbours, as well as the Camry in the car park.
Police allege the DNA found in the car returned a mixed profile with Cochran being a major component.
Cochran has been disqualified from driving since 2018 and is the subject of a Lake Illawarra Suspect Target Management Plan.
Police allege Cochran deliberately avoided being arrested until February.
In court on Tuesday, Cochran's lawyer Matt Ward submitted the prosecution case against his client was weak and circumstantial when making a bail application.
Mr Ward claimed there was no evidence outlined in the documents tendered to court that positively identified Cochran as the driver during the pursuit.
While Mr Ward conceded Cochran's DNA was found inside the car, that did not necessarily mean he was driving at the time.
He also acknowledged Cochran had a lengthy criminal record that did not assist him but submitted it was not inevitable he would be found guilty and would defend the matter in June.
The court was also told Cochran had strong ties to the Illawarra and was supported in court by family and friends.
Magistrate Claire Girotto granted Cochran bail as she agreed the prosecution case did not appear strong.
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