The victim tried to reverse to escape Couch but struck the car behind him, causing two other vehicles to collide nose to tail. The altercation then spilled onto the street, where the two men attempted to punch and restrain each other.
Couch pleaded guilty in September to charges of affray, unlawful assault and willfully damaging property over the incident.
The court heard Couch’s criminal history included 11 instances of property damage, two assaults on emergency workers, arson, and six assaults.
“He is developing a criminal history,” Magistrate Michelle Mykytowycz told the court. “He is running out of chances.”
Couch’s lawyer said her client was particularly vulnerable in custody due to his young age, mental illness, and intellectual disability. She argued for the 21-year-old to be released subject to conditions.
Mykytowycz agreed Couch’s time in custody had been under “very onerous conditions” due to COVID-19 restrictions and a lengthy stint in solitary confinement following his assault on a prison guard in February. Couch threw a hot liquid at the guard’s face shield, which spilled onto his chest and caused his skin to turn red. He was actively psychotic at the time of the incident.
“It’s certainly left you despondent,” she told Couch. “It has impacted your mental health.”
Mykytowycz said Couch had stabilised his mental illness, was taking the correct medication, and had found accommodation with a relative in Ballarat.
“When you are unwell you have no insight as to how unwell you are,” she said.
“You are in a good position now. You are showing and demonstrating some insight into your mental health. Some insight and acceptance that you have to receive some treatment.”
Mykytowycz sentenced Couch to a two-year supervision order, which will allow him to move freely in the community, subject to some conditions.
The 21-year-old will be supervised and required to get treatment for drug use and mental health.
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