|31 May 2018 • Age, Melbourne (General News)
by Erin Pearson
The truck driver accused of running two teachers off the road during a road rage and hammer attack on the Tullamarine Freeway allegedly went on to swap vehicles and attack a second couple with a baseball bat hours later, fresh police charges reveal.
Elten Gevergizyan, a Muay Thai fighter, faces 17 charges relating to the alleged two-day, ice-fuelled spree.
He appeared handcuffed in the dock of Broadmeadows Magistrates Court yesterday where he made no application for bail.
It’s alleged following Saturday’s initial incident, the 27-year-old excavation company co-owner armed himself with a baseball bat and attacked two other motorists after ramming them on a 100km/h stretch of road at Epping.
Mr Gevergizyan sat silent throughout his brief court appearance, dishevelled and dressed in a long-sleeved, grey T-shirt.
Lawyer Mihal Greener told the court her client was withdrawing from ice and needed assistance. “He has asthma. And he’d like assistance with ice withdrawal,” she said. “He’s feeling very nauseous. It’s his first time in custody.” Mr Gevergizyan was arrested on Tuesday evening after he allegedly tailgated schoolteachers Leigh Mahady, 62, and Julie Dougherty, 60, as they drove at 80km/h through Strathmore along the Tullamarine Freeway to Melbourne Airport.
The truck driver allegedly tailgated their car before he began repeatedly beeping the horn about 1.10pm on Saturday.
He then allegedly pulled up next to the women, side swiping them before pushing the car towards a concrete road barrier and damaging doors, a side mirror and tyres, police said.
The women were hoping to exchange names and numbers with the truck driver for insurance purposes. But while they were inspecting the damage to their car shortly after pulling over, he returned armed with a hammer and stick, police say.
He then allegedly charged at Ms Mahady, knocking her to the ground.
Fresh charges have since revealed that on Sunday, while behind the wheel of another truck, Mr Gevergizyan allegedly rammed another car in Epping, causing $1000 damage to the husband and wife’s vehicle.
Police say Mr Gevergizyan then armed himself with a baseball bat and assaulted the couple. Mr Gevergizyan has been charged with multiple offences, including conduct endangering life and assault with a weapon.
Magistrate Abigail Burchill remanded Mr Gevergizyan to reappear in the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on June 8.
The court appearance came as Victoria’s top traffic cop, Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer, called for calm on the roads in the wake of another road rage attack in Sunbury, where a mother and her children were terrorised by a violent driver.
Road rage assaults have jumped by 60 per cent across Victoria in the past four years – from 210 to 380 reported cases – according to Crime Statistics Agency data.
“People are just in a rush to get where they need to be and we just implore everybody just to relax,” Mr Fryer said. “The idea that perfectly reasonable people lose the plot because of a minor traffic altercation or something not letting them in just makes no sense. Chill out.”
Mr Fryer rebuffed suggestions of creating a new charge for a road rage offence, saying there were already significant offences in place, including “conduct endangering life” or “recklessly cause injury”.
Police Minister Lisa Neville agreed, saying police already had the powers they needed to hold people to account.
“We’ll have discussions with Victoria Police about any measures that can promote respect on our roads, including education and awareness to minimise driver aggression on our roads,” she said.
Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto said something had to be done to better protect innocent drivers and passengers.