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- Unreported Judgment
DISTRICT COURT OF QUEENSLAND
Donald v Commissioner of Police  QDC 155
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE
2726 of 2019
District Court, Brisbane
10 July 2020
26 June 2020
CRIMINAL LAW – APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – s 222 Justices Act – where the appellant was taken to hospital and stayed after being discharged - where the appellant was homeless and refused crisis accommodation assistance – where it was likely the appellant suffered from mental health issues - where the appellant was charged with one offence of obstructing a police officer and one offence of trespass – where the learned Magistrate recorded a conviction and fined the appellant $400.00 – where the learned Magistrate did not give any reasons for recording a conviction against the appellant – whether the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive.
J P Bell for the Appellant
L Maleckas for the Respondent
Bell Dore Lawyers for the Appellant
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Respondent
- The appellant was charged with one offence of obstruct a police officer and one offence of trespass. Both offences occurred on 6 June 2019.
- The circumstances of the offending involved the appellant being taken by ambulance to Redcliffe Hospital on 5 June 2019. She refused medical treatment and was discharged that evening at 7.50pm. At 9.00am the next morning she was found within the hospital and asked to leave, but was later located in a bed at 11.00am. Police were called and arrived at the hospital to find her seated with an amount of personal property next to the main entrance of the hospital. They were aware that she had previously stayed outside the Redcliffe Police Station for two days and refused crisis assistance.
- The police made enquiries with hospital staff and then arrested her for trespass at which point she stood up and started to walk away ignoring a direction to stop. When they attempted to grab her by the arm she shrugged that contact away and was then restrained.
- She appeared originally from the watch house soon after being arrested and the matter was adjourned to 11 June 2019 for hearing. On that day she did not appear, although she indicated she was trying to get to court and was running late. The Magistrate decided to proceed in her absence and after hearing the facts, noted that she had appeared to be suffering from mental health issues at the previous appearance, and that that was probably apparent at the time of the offending. He recorded a conviction and fined her an amount of $400.
- There was no criminal history alleged in relation to this young woman and she was, at the time of the offence, 33 years old and it seems she had mental health issues. The facts further reveal that she was likely to be homeless.
- The offending itself was fairly minor. The obstruct police officer simply involved shrugging off an arm and the trespass involved her lying on a bed when she was not undertaking any medical treatment.
- There was no evidence that she could afford to pay a $400 fine, the appellant was not given any time to pay, and the Magistrate did not give any reasons for recording a conviction against the appellant.
- It is accepted by the crown that the failure to record any reasons for recording a conviction was in itself an error in law and the appeal should be allowed on that basis.
- The appeal was run on the basis that the conviction being recorded should be set aside, however in my view, the fine should also be set aside. This was an offence that was minor in character. The Magistrate himself observed that it was likely that the appellant suffered from mental health issues. She had no previous convictions and in the circumstances it seems to me that an absolute discharge would have been the appropriate order.
The appeal is allowed. The sentence imposed on 11 June 2019 is set aside. Pursuant to s 19(1)(a) of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) the appellant is discharged absolutely.
 Transcript of Sentencing Remarks pg.2 line 4 – 7.
- Published Case Name:
Larissa Donald v Commissioner of Police
- Shortened Case Name:
Donald v Commissioner of Police
 QDC 155
10 Jul 2020