A teenager who drove a car towards terrified pedestrians in Melbourne's CBD and sparked fears of a terrorist attack has avoided imprisonment for his crimes.
The 15-year-old, who cannot be named due to his age, had pleaded guilty to six charges, including reckless conduct endangering life and assaulting police, over the incident in September 30, 2017.
The teen narrowly avoided striking pedestrians, cyclists and trams as he drove erratically near Federation Square and Flinders Street station while dressed in military-style combat gear.
A children's court judge on Wednesday sentenced the boy to a 12-month youth supervision order and said she believed he had good prospects of rehabilitation as long as he continued to receive support for his profound disabilities.
The teen, who was diagnosed with autism after his arrest, has the language skills of a child aged between three and five, according to paediatric experts who assessed him.
"Your complex needs are now being met for the first time," the judge said.
"I assess that your prospects of rehabilitation are very good and the risk you pose to community is low."
She also commended the police for the way they responded to the incident.
After swerving between trams and mounting footpaths, the teen got out of the car armed with a bicycle pump as terrified onlookers ran from his path.
"You appeared menacing and frightening as you moved towards those members of the public," the judge said.
The teen then swung his bike pump at a police officer who tried to stop him with capsicum spray.
But the helmet the teen was wearing meant the spray had little effect.
The officer managed to avoid being hit by the pump before other officers tackled the teen and subdued him with a Taser.
"Your offending was not to be viewed as an act of terror," the judge said.
"However, this was not readily apparent to the members of the public and the police, whose role is to protect the public from harm."
A tram driver whose path crossed with the teen's car said she was still afraid to go into the city.
"I thought these things only happened in the movies, not in my city," she said in a victim impact statement.
The judge said it was fortunate no one was seriously injured.
"The consequences of your driving could have been catastrophic," she said.
As part of his supervision order, the teen cannot drive a car or use the internet without supervision.
Australian Associated Press