Mum’s ’unbelievable’ 223km/h chase
For days, Sydney woman Margarita Tomovska has posted a #NotGuilty countdown on her Instagram after she was arrested last year for hitting speeds of up to 223km/h with an unrestrained child in the back seat of her souped-up Mercedes.
But a not-guilty verdict wasn't what she received today.
Tomovska, 28, appeared in Wollongong Local Court after she was pulled over just after 8pm on November 13 for sparking the high-speed chase with police in the northern Illawarra suburb of Helensburgh.
Today the 28-year-old was dressed in Versace head-to-toe, posting to her 70,000 Instagram followers pictures of her bejewelled dress and the emerald and diamond earrings she was wearing to match her swimsuit.
Last night, Tomovska posted a picture to the social media platform of her pouting at the camera, "Resting bitch face on for tomorrow. Practice makes perfect," she wrote.
LET IT GO
Tomovska was arrested when officers looked inside her car and saw a distressed three-year-old girl in the back of the Mercedes with her car seat not properly anchored and her arms free of the restraints.
In-car video from the highway patrol vehicle was shown to the court today of the high-speed chase, showing arresting officer Senior Constable Grant working hard to calm the three-year-old girl down, eventually putting 'Let It Go' from Frozen onto a phone for the child to watch.
Tomovska's defence lawyer told the court the 28-year-old had been under duress when she decided to speed away from the highway patrol car because of her front seat passenger.
The passenger, Christopher King, was described by police in court today as a "potentially dangerous man" whose frame was so big the arresting officers required two sets of handcuffs to restrain him.
Police from Strike Force Raptor, a specialist team in NSW Police that focuses on bikies and serious offenders, had been following Tomovska's car after receiving intelligence King would be the only one inside and could potentially be armed, Senior Constable Tuma told the court.
Despite King's reputation, the court found Tomovska was not under duress when she chose to speed away from police, engaging them in a high-speed chase for a few minutes before she abruptly pulled over.
Magistrate Susan McGowan told the court she was "speechless" after final submissions were made earlier today but promised to deliver a heavy judgment after lunch.
And deliver she did, lashing Tomovska and coming to the conclusion the 28-year-old was under absolutely no duress.
"I've felt as if my intelligence was being affronted, that's how unbelievable it all was," Magistrate McGowan told the court.
"It's obvious (Tomovska) could've told police at a later time as to what happened … there were numerous occasions where she had the opportunity to tell police that she was scared. She never mentioned it once.
"Would a reasonable person act as she did with a little girl in the back of the car? I don't think they would."
Magistrate McGowan also brought up the end of the conversation between Tomovska and the senior constable who was driving the highway patrol car.
"Oh one other thing that I didn't notice and I thought this was terrific," Magistrate McGowan said sarcastically.
She was referring to Tomovska and Senior Constable Grant's chat as they waited for a police car with a paddy wagon to arrive, the two started chatting.
"You could've killed (the girl), do you get that?" Sen Con Grant asked.
"I do," Tomovska replied.
"Over what?" he said.
"Over nothing," she said. "Nothing, stupidity, but at least I gave up."
"That was nice of you," Sen Con Grant replied. "You were getting away from me too … you were getting away from me, you did all right.
"No those cars go all right," Tomovska said.
"Yeah you done any driving courses or anything like that before?"
"No," Tomovska responded.
"Just put your foot down?" Sen Con Grant asked.
"My mate is highway patrol and he was telling, I took him for a spin and he was saying (the Mercedes) are like highway patrol but on steroids those cars … yeah no chance if I kept going," Tomovska said.
"You reckon," Sen Con Grant said.
"It's not funny," Tomovska replied.
"It's not funny, no it's not," he said.
"I know it's not funny, I was just being a stupid idiot," she said.
"Do you know what happens when a body hits a pole at 200km/h? … There is nothing left," Sen Con Grant said.
"F**k that, but at least it's a highway," she replied.
Magistrate McGowan found Tomovska guilty of sparking the high speed chase in Helensburgh and ordered her to return to court to be sentenced in October.
Earlier, Tomovska went head-to-head with police prosecutor Sergeant Amelia Wall as the 28-year-old took to the stand.
The court heard Tomovska had only known King for a week when she agreed to drive him down to Wollongong to see a friend.
When Sergeant Wall questioned Tomovska as to why she would drive a man she'd only met three times, that she wasn't intimately involved with, down to Wollongong, the 28-year-old said, "I love driving, that's what I do".
The back-and-forth became heated when Tomovska introduced a new line allegedly said by King in her Mercedes, before the police chase kicked off.
"King had noticed the police, he started panicking and said 'there's cops behind you, slow down, do the speed limit'," Sergeant Wall said
"You pull over and that's 'cause King said to put the blinker on then he shouted at you and said 'whatever you do, do not stop'," she continued.
Tomovska then said King told her to "floor it".
"You never used the words 'floor it', you're using 'floor it now'," Sergeant Wall said.
"It's flashbacks," Tomovska replied.
Earlier, Tomovska had told her defence lawyer Louis Angelovski that King had "screamed and said 'whatever you do, do not stop' in a serious, deep voice".
"I just blacked out, I was stressed, I didn't know what to do," Tomovska told the court.
Sergeant Wall also pulled Tomovska up as she told the court she panicked about the police chase because "that's never happened to me before".
"Let me stop you there," Sergeant Wall said. "You've said this a number of times … you've been pulled over by police before under lights and sirens".
The prosecutor told the court Tomovska had been pulled over by police four times under lights and sirens.
After Tomovska and King were pulled out of the Mercedes, King was handcuffed at the back of the car and Tomovska was walked to the front of the car to speak with police.
The prosecutor asked Tomovska why she hadn't taken the opportunity to tell officers there she was scared of King.
"Because he was right next to me," she said.
"No, no, no," the prosecutor said. "He was metres away from you. You were at the front and he was at the back".
The 28-year-old was also pulled up for saying she lived "down the road" from King, claiming it added to the duress. After questioning from Sergeant Wall, Tomovska admitted she didn't live on the same street or even in the same suburb as King.
"Are you telling us the truth today Ms Tomovska?" Sergeant Wall asked.
The prosecution said the case against Tomovska was "strong" telling the court the 28-year-old had invented a quote that King told her to "floor it" only after she was questioned about her high speed.
Even when Tomovska tried to say King was "unpredictable", Sergeant Wall bit back.
"You've known him Ms Tomovska," she said. "You see, what I'm suggesting to you is that you had the opportunity to pull over but instead you decided to stay in car with the child, with the unpredictable behaviour of a man you've only known a week and put your foot down."
"Yes," Tomovska replied.
The 28-year-old, wearing her Versace dress and a black cape, walked out of Wollongong Local Court today to a throng of waiting media and didn't say anything as she jumped into the same Mercedes she led police on a high-speed chase with.
While she wasn't driving, the sleek, grey car sped off up the road and past Wollongong Police Station.