Riverine Herald

Echuca man arrested over wild car chase through five towns

By Ivy Jensen

A CAR ran headfirst into another vehicle in Echuca while allegedly driving at dangerous speeds, at times on the wrong side of the road while fleeing from police through five towns yesterday.

Police from nine towns were involved in trying to corner the man.

Two cars were also allegedly stolen in less than an hour, with police having to deploy spikes, Police Air Wing, dog squad and multiple roving patrols in an attempt to stop the driver.

At 8.45pm that day, a man surrendered himself to Echuca police station and has been charged with various driving, evading police, burglary and theft offences.

Damian Leslie Graham, 29, was held in custody overnight before appearing in Echuca Magistrates Court yesterday.

He made no bail application and was further remanded in custody to appear at the same court on November 11.

Detective Senior Constable Peter Colliver of Echuca criminal investigation said police had a warrant out for Graham's arrest over a spate of burglaries and thefts and tried to stop him in Kanyapella about 10am.

Graham allegedly took off in a Holden Commodore at high speeds, driving through Tongala and into Echuca.

‘‘He was clocked doing 140km/h and had a collision with a car on the Murray Valley Hwy near the Bay of Biscay,” Det. Snr Constable Colliver said.

One witness said she nearly had a head-on collision with a car near the Echuca racecourse, while another said she saw a car speeding into Echuca with "half the side of his car hanging off".

Because of Victoria Police's non-pursuit policy, roving patrols, a police helicopter and tyre deflation devices were used instead.

‘‘He was seen going through the Ogilvie Ave roadworks about 90km/h on the wrong side of the road,’’ Det. Snr Constable Colliver said.

"The car almost hit me on Ogilvie Ave going up wrong side of road in the service lane going around the roadworks,” a witness said.

Another witness told the Riv the car was 3m away from hitting her head-on on the wrong side of the road at the Campaspe Esplanade lights.

"It was the scariest thing I have seen by far,” she said.

A woman who was walking in Echuca said she would be dead if she didn’t notice the car or had her headphones in.

After running over tyre deflation devices, the Commodore was dumped in parkland off Magnolia Drive, near Mt Terrick Rd.

Graham is then alleged to have stolen a Ford Ranger from Carlisle Way at Cunningham Downs retirement village in Mt Terrick Rd.

The car again evaded police and was seen driving towards Rochester.

Some time later, that car was dumped in Elmore and a white 2015 Mazda CX-5 SUV was allegedly stolen from Degraves Rd.

The Mazda was found in the Echuca area and it and the Commodore will be examined by police before being returned to their owners.

Campaspe criminal investigation unit Detective Sergeant Barry Gray said multiple police units were deployed from Echuca, Tongala, Kyabram, Gunbower, Rochester, Goornong and Heathcote as well as Campaspe and Bendigo highway patrols and Campaspe and Bendigo crime investigation units.

Graham's charges include burglary and theft from sporting clubs in Strathdale and Mooroopna, a business in Flora Hill, service station in Quarry Hill, post office in Marong and houses in Longlea and Elmore; aggravated burglary in Girgarre; burglary in Nanneella; theft of vehicles in Mooroopna, Echuca and Elmore; theft from vehicle in Rochester; theft of petrol in Axedale and Rochester; theft of number plates in Rochester; criminal damage in Echuca; deception-related offences in Rochester; numerous driving-related offences including evading police in Rochester, Echuca, Tongala and Kyabram; and numerous offences against the Bail Act.

They all stem from offences in October.

“A number of items of the alleged stolen property have been recovered during the investigation,” Det. Sgt Gray said.