A Portland man charged with serious offences including burglary and reckless conduct endangering life has been released from custody amid coronavirus fears.
Jack Tonta, 29, of Kobo Creek, appeared in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on Monday where he made a self-represented bail application.
He is charged with a range of serious offending that dates back to October 13 last year, including unlawful assault with a weapon, recklessly causing injury, driving while suspended, careless driving, reckless conduct endangering life, three counts of theft and obtaining up to $2000 by deception.
During the bail application, Mr Tonta was required to provide sufficient evidence to reach the exceptional circumstances standard so he could be released from custody.
The 'exceptional circumstances' test in the Bail Act is plainly intended to be more difficult to satisfy than the other 'compelling reason' test.
Magistrate Mark Stratmann said he would accept the current coronavirus pandemic as an exceptional circumstance, citing a similar Supreme Court matter in Ballarat last week.
He said an accused person passed the exceptional circumstances standard after Justice Lex Lasry found that "the presence of the COVID-19 virus in the community, and the impact on the court system to deal with cases, might lead to significant delay in the prison system".
That person was charged with drug trafficking while on bail for similar offending.
"I take that matter into account today and in my view, considering all of the issues, exceptional circumstances are made out," Mr Stratmann said.
"It seems clear that there will be significant delays as a result (of the coronavirus pandemic), which may result in a lengthy period of remand."
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Mr Tonta was bailed from Warrnambool Magistrates Court earlier this year and when he failed to attend court on March 13, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He attended Warrnambool police station on March 20 and was arrested on six outstanding bench warrants.
The court heard Mr Tonta had a long criminal history in Western Australia that included aggravated home burglary and robbery.
He told the court on Monday that he emailed magistrates' staff on March 13 and told them he couldn't attend court because he was interstate.
He said when he found out a warrant was issued for his arrest, he attended the police station straight away.
Mr Tonta was released from custody with strict conditions, including he surrender his passport, not leave Victoria, not contact any witnesses, abide by a 10pm to 6am curfew and not drive a motor vehicle.
He will appear in court again on May 12.
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