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Patricia (a pseudonym) v Director of Public Prosecutions[2021] QCHC 9

Patricia (a pseudonym) v Director of Public Prosecutions[2021] QCHC 9

CHILDRENS COURT OF QUEENSLAND

CITATION:

Patricia (a pseudonym) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2021] QChC 9

PARTIES:

PATRICIA (a pseudonym)

(applicant)

v

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS

(respondent)

FILE NO:

91/21

DIVISION:

Childrens Court of Queensland

PROCEEDING:

Sentence Review Application

ORIGINATING COURT:

Childrens Court at Brisbane

DELIVERED ON:

18 May 2021

DELIVERED AT:

Childrens Court at Brisbane

HEARING DATE:

29 April 2021

JUDGE:

Richards P

ORDER:

  1. The application for sentence review is granted.
  2. The sentence is set aside and in its place a sentence of six months’ probation is imposed.

CATCHWORDS:

CRIMINAL LAW – SENTENCE – SENTENCING OF JUVENILES – where the child was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and 50 hours of community service in relation to offences of obstructing a police officer, assault of a police officer and serious assault of a police officer by spitting – where the child was 17 years old at the time and 18 at sentence – where the child had no criminal history – where the child was remorseful and apologised to police – where the child was intoxicated at the time of the offending – where spitting is a serious offence – whether the sentence imposed was excessive in the circumstances

COUNSEL:

Mr T Clements for the applicant instructed by Legal Aid

Mr M Andronicus instructed by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for the respondent

SOLICITORS:

Legal Aid for the applicant

Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for the respondent

Introduction

  1. [1]
    The child was sentenced on 22 January 2021 in relation to offences of obstructing a police officer, assault of a police officer and serious assault of a police officer all on 20 October 2020.  She was 17 years at the time of the offences and 18 years at the time of sentence.  She had no criminal history.  She was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and 50 hours community service with no convictions recorded. 
  2. [2]
    The child had originally been arrested for public intoxication, a charge which was subsequently struck-out.  Police placed a hand on her bicep and her forearm.  She started to yell and scream that police were racist.  She started to thrash against the police and was put in hand restraints.  She dropped her body weight to the ground and refused to walk, pushed her feet into the ground and drove back into the police.  They picked her up and walked her to the back of the police car with her head facing downwards and she spat at the boots of the two police officers.  As they approached the back of the police car she continued to abuse them and then kicked out, striking a police officer in the knee.  She refused to get into the police car so she was lifted into the pod section.  As one of the police was about to shut the door, she spat and the officer closed the door on her preventing the spit hitting him.
  3. [3]
    It was accepted that the child was drunk at the time of the offending and was in a heightened state of emotion having been involved in a loud incident with a male when she came to police attention.  She was described as being in a highly agitated state.  They tried to get her to stop and speak to them but she started to abuse them and that was when she was arrested. 
  4. [4]
    At the time of sentence, the child lived with her mother and father and two older brothers.  She was born in Emerald and grew up in the area.  She completed year 12 at Blackwater High School and was working at a bakery on a casual basis, anywhere from 10 to 20 hours per week.  She was planning to commence a nursing degree at the time of sentence.  She was seeing a counsellor which she indicated had greatly assisted her.  At the time of the offending, she was a little lost, unsure what to do after school and she subsequently realised that alcohol makes her very angry.  It was submitted that a restorative justice order may be appropriate and she was happy to take part in that. 
  5. [5]
    Her mother indicated that she had been bullied and harassed at school and that had affected her and that her attitude had improved.  Her parents had had serious talks with her.  Her parents endorsed the restorative justice process indicating that it was important for her to understand the seriousness of the matter and apologise to the officers involved.  The Magistrate then adjourned the sentence so that apologies could be made to the police officers who were still locally employed.
  6. [6]
    When the matter returned to the court the child had apologised.  The Prosecution indicated that the police officer had told her:

“The child Miss Parsons and her mother attended the Blackwater Police Station and apologised.  Monica showed remorse, was visibly upset by her actions while she was reading her apology.  Monica advised me she has sought extra assistance from the counsellor in Blackwater as she is aware she has a drinking problem and understands the negative impact excessive drinking can cause.  Monica understands her actions were wrong, is working towards bettering herself in the future.  Please find attached the apology from Monica”

  1. [7]
    A letter was attached which again showed her remorse and understanding that her actions were wrong.
  2. [8]
    The Magistrate consulted with the parents as to whether they thought 12 months probation and community service was appropriate and they agreed. Of course, the parents input into the sentencing process is desirable, particularly where the child is living with them. Information given by them to the court about whether they have shown remorse and understanding of the impact of the offending is valuable.  Their views on the appropriate sentence is not. Given the lack of previous contact with the courts and her actions after the offending this is a case where a restorative justice process would have been an appropriate sentence. However, the child made an appointment with the police, went to the police station and made a sincere apology. In my view a restorative justice order seems redundant in those circumstances.
  3. [9]
    The Magistrate was not assisted by the submissions of the police prosecutor that in cases where a person is charged with serious assault by spitting that the submission is for imprisonment. It was submitted that there would be three to six months imprisonment in normal circumstances for an adult. This may have been said to drive home to the child the serious nature of the offending, however, it is unhelpful to compare what an adult may receive when dealing with a child appearing in court for the first time.
  4. [10]
    This was a case where restorative justice should have been considered as a pre-sentence referral. The child was obviously very willing to apologise and the police were receptive to receiving that apology. The circumstances of the offence was somewhat unusual in that this child had not been in trouble before and was an extremely emotional and intoxicated state. She was of otherwise good character. She did spit but fortunately the spit did not make contact with the police [other than their shoes].
  5. [11]
    I accept the submission that imposing the maximum period of probation allowable as well as 50 hours community service did not reflect the sincere apology that was made, the early plea of guilty or the previous good character of the child. I also accept that spitting is a serious offence.  Whilst the apology was a positive step to redress her behaviour, given the fact that this was an assault on two occasions of officers performing their duty, a period of probation is appropriate.
  6. [12]
    The application for review is granted. The sentence is set aside and in its place a sentence of six months’ probation is imposed.
Close

Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Patricia (a pseudonym) v Director of Public Prosecutions

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Patricia (a pseudonym) v Director of Public Prosecutions

  • MNC:

    [2021] QCHC 9

  • Court:

    QChC

  • Judge(s):

    Richards P

  • Date:

    18 May 2021

Appeal Status

Please note, appeal data is presently unavailable for this judgment. This judgment may have been the subject of an appeal.
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