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Teen on bail again despite claim he fled crash scene

Date

Louis Andrews

A teenager accused of crashing into another vehicle and fleeing the scene while already on bail for allegedly stealing luxury cars is back in the community.

Jermaine Goolagong, who a psychiatrist says is mentally impaired and unfit to plead, is once again banned from driving. Police and the prosecution warned putting the 18-year-old back on the streets put both himself and the community at risk. And Chief Justice Terence Higgins agreed it was ''the central question, how can his behaviour be managed so that he doesn't create a danger to others?''

But the ACT Supreme Court judge on Tuesday said bail was appropriate in light of Goolagong's mental illness and fears for his safety in prison.

Goolagong's bid for conditional freedom has spanned two courts and a series of judicial officers since his arrest in September.

He was taken into custody when he showed up in court after allegedly dodging police for more than a week after a September 3 car crash on Canberra Avenue.

Goolagong was on strict bail conditions banning him from driving when he allegedly ran a red light, mounted a traffic island and ploughed into a car. At the time he was awaiting a fitness to plead hearing for charges of car theft, riding or driving a motor vehicle without consent, drug possession, aggravated burglary and theft.

The prosecution has challenged the psychiatrist's report.

The issue is still being fought out in the ACT Magistrates Court.

The earlier charges relate to the alleged thefts of four luxury cars in April and July, as well as a Kingston break-in.

The court previously heard that four luxury or sports cars were stolen from Kingston and Kambah in April and July.

Several of Goolagong's alleged crimes were committed on the same day he was already due to face court over earlier allegations.

Magistrate Bernadette Boss revoked his bail after the September incident.

In October she again refused bail, delivering a scathing assessment of the territory's inability to provide mentally ill prisoners an alternative to custody.

Chief Justice Higgins echoed her concerns on Tuesday.

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