A woman has been sentenced in Coffs Harbour for assaulting two paramedics.
A woman has been sentenced in Coffs Harbour for assaulting two paramedics.

Paramedics spat on, bitten in drug-fuelled attack

A young woman who scratched, bit and spat on two paramedics during what was described as a "drug-induced psychotic episode" has been convicted.

The pink-haired woman, aged 21, appeared in Coffs Harbour Local Court this week where she pleaded guilty to the two common assaults which took place in October.

The defence told the court that she had consumed LSD a week prior to the offences, and her mental health deteriorated to the point where her parents called an ambulance on October 25.

The court heard she was "clearly agitated" when she lashed out at the paramedics and, believing they were going to cause her harm, she began scratching, kicking, and punching them.

She then spat on and bit one of the ambulance officers.

The defence had asked the Magistrate not to convict the offender, but to divert her away from the criminal justice system to mental health treatment under what is referred to as a Section 32 order under the Mental Health Act.

This was however heavily argued against by the prosecution, who warned the Magistrate that doing so would "send the wrong message" to the community.

The young woman was convicted and sentenced at Coffs Harbour Local Court this week.Photo Leigh Jensen/Coffs Coast Advocate
The young woman was convicted and sentenced at Coffs Harbour Local Court this week.Photo Leigh Jensen/Coffs Coast Advocate

 

They argued that a medical report had made it clear there was a causal connection between the woman's drug use and her offending.

"The victims in this matter were going about their duties, performing as emergency health workers - they're not just pushed and shoved, they're scratched at, they're bitten, they're spat on to the extent that one flees to seek assistance from police.

"It would send the message to the community that if you experiment with drugs and behave in this fashion, the courts will give you a chance."

Magistrate Ian Rodgers refused the Section 32 application, agreeing with the prosecution that it was important to consider the "significant impact" of the crimes on the frontline workers as well as the community.

He however acknowledged that the woman was otherwise of good character and had been experiencing a first episode of psychosis at the time, and said it was important for her to continue to receive treatment.

He also took into account that she had no criminal history, and sentenced her to a 9-month community corrections order.

"They're front line workers who are doing important work for our community," he said.

"I've been asked not to make a conviction … but in my view it's too serious."

Upon hearing her sentence, the woman was escorted out of the courtroom in tears by a family member.