A disqualified driver who led police on a dangerous chase down Bulli Pass in order to dodge a COVID-19 checkpoint during lockdown has avoided further time behind bars.
After a pitstop at a Sydney liquor shop, Oscar Santa Ana headed to Wollongong on August 20 last year in a black Hyundai, with no licence and a can of bourbon perched in his middle console.
Court documents said the 36-year-old labourer from Mt Pritchard, a virus hotspot, came to the attention of police about 1.45pm when he failed to pull over at the checkpoint, prompting a chase that saw him reach speeds of up to 85km/h down the winding, narrow pass and through local streets where pedestrians and children were present.
Police found his abandoned car in Allenby Place in Bulli and, with the help of residents and a police dog, quickly tracked down Santa Ana to a nearby creek.
A search revealed a fold-up knife wedged down Santa Ana's underwear, as well as a Samurai sword and an open, half-empty can of bourbon in the car.
Santa Ana was taken to Wollongong Hospital for a drug and alcohol test and COVID swab, before being charged with police pursuit, driving with a disqualified licence, having custody of a knife in a public place, and not complying with COVID public health orders.
In the morning you have an accident, and a half-hour later you have a pursuit. [It's] madness, absolute madness.
It was later discovered Santa Ana had caused a prang in Dan Murphy's Casula about half-an-hour before leading police on the chase.
A man told police Santa Ana had hit his car door while attempting to reverse.
He said he yelled out, "Oi, you just hit my car, aren't you going to stop?" to which Santa Ana replied, "I didn't see, you're going to have to chase me."
Santa Ana was slapped with additional charges including not giving particulars to another.
In Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, defence lawyer Jonathan Kearney conceded his client's criminal and traffic record - 10 convictions, including a prior police chase that saw him sent to prison and disqualified from driving until 2051 - was "horrible".
Mr Kearney said Santa Ana had spent 87 days in jail following the August 20 pursuit, before being released in November.
He then spent two-and-a-half months in Odyssey House, his first rehab stint, which Mr Kearney described as a "watershed" moment for his client.
Magistrate Claire Girotto took into account Santa Ana's significant attempts to rehabilitate himself, including his completion of an outpatient drug and alcohol program, as well as the death of a close friend in a boating accident.
"The pursuit is not the worst I've seen at all: 85 in a 60km/h zone," the magistrate said.
"Nevertheless it's not your first pursuit.
"In the morning you have an accident, and a half-hour later you have a pursuit.
"[It's] madness, absolute madness."
She fined him $500, imposed an intensive correction order of 14 months, and disqualified him from driving for a further three years.
Read more Illawarra court and crime stories here.
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