A BENDIGO man claims he “went off the rails” by committing thefts and baiting highway police officers on Facebook after he witnessed the fatal stabbing of his best friend in Long Gully last year, a court has heard.
Jaawaa Morgan, 20, pleaded guilty to 26 charges in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday including reckless conduct endangering serious injury.
On February 8, police took a photograph of Morgan intimidating motorists and committing a range of driving offences while riding a green motorbike with no number plates in Golden Square.
The next day, Morgan did a burnout in front of the police station on Thistle Street and passed three cars on the wrong side of the road. He also narrowly missed a pedestrian in front of the Foundry Hotel.
A day later, Bendigo police distributed a picture of the motorbike to the media, and Sergeant Mick McCrann contacted Morgan on Facebook requesting he hand himself in.
Morgan replied: “Suck my **** you filthy copper dogs”, to which Sergeant McCrann replied: “I’ll see you soon then”.
Morgan, who has never held a driver’s licence, was spotted running a red light on Don Street on February 12.
On March 17, he crossed a median strip on Eaglehawk Road and narrowly avoided hitting an ambulance which had its lights and sirens on.
He posted a Facebook status on April 11 which read: “Mick McCrann you will never catch me! Keep raiding house after house you still won’t catch me copper dog”.
Nine days later he was arrested in a police raid and made full admissions to the offences.
Morgan was also charged for hitting a car with a piece of wood in March 2015, stealing two handbags from a car on Mollison Street in October 2015, and a burglary on a house in Kangaroo Flat in June 2016 during which he stole a Suzuki motorbike.
He used the motorbike to attempt to “bait” police into pursuits in Ironbark the following week, and was seen riding at 100 km/h through traffic lights on Barnard Street.
DNA evidence placed Morgan at the scene of a burglary at an Echuca pet store in January, when six pythons, three bearded dragons and a puppy were stolen. Only two pythons and the dog have been recovered.
Defence counsel Robert Timms said Morgan’s offending was the result of his failure to get grief counselling after witnessing the stabbing death of his best friend, and he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The court heard Morgan attempted to resuscitate his best friend on September 17 last year after he was fatally stabbed in Long Gully. A man has been charged with murder in relation to the death.
Mr Timms said Morgan “didn’t care what happened to himself” after the incident, and his offending intensified along with his drug abuse.
“The offending in general was serious, and he acknowledges that he should have done something about his grief and anger, but didn’t do so,” he said.
“Thankfully no one was injured.”
Magistrate Sarah Leighfield said Morgan would be released on bail on Friday and placed on a court integrated services program, which gives people on bail access to support services.
She said it would be a test for Morgan, who will be sentenced in three months time.
“That period is really imperative for you to prove that you can bring yourself back on track and engage with the community and get your issues under control,” Ms Leighfield said.
“If you do well on that program, then when I come to sentence you I will be very likely to only keep it at the prison sentence you've served to be followed by a community corrections order.”