Mum gets jail for biting cop, spitting on nurse

TRANQUILISERS failed to calm an angry mum at Ipswich Hospital who spat on a nurse and bit a police officer.

In a Crown case before Ipswich District Court, the woman was taken to hospital because of her aggressive and erratic behaviour brought on by excessive alcohol consumption.

Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said police officers transported Monique Rae O'Brien, 41, to the hospital but she refused to calm down and demanded to be let go.

A medical decision was made to give her sedatives but this was unable to be done orally.

Instead the sedative was given by needle but O'Brien continued yelling at police and hospital staff, even when handcuffs were removed.

A decision was taken to give her another injection but as this was being done O'Brien lunged forward and bit a police officer on his wrist and hand.

The scratch bled and O'Brien continued thrashing about.

Mr Needham said a senior nurse held her by the legs but O'Brien then grabbed the nurse's shirt and spat on her.

Seated calmly in the dock, O'Brien pleaded guilty to serious assault of a police officer by spitting/biting, doing bodily harm; serious assault of a public officer/nurse by spitting on October 16 last year and assault/obstructing a police officer.

Mr Needham said such erratic behaviour toward police and nursing professionals was always concerning and the Crown sought a jail sentence of 18 months.

He said this also took into account a previous assault in which a man was hit with a glass ashtray causing a wound to his head.

Mr Needham said such offences on police and public officers now carried a maximum jail term of 14 years.

Defence barrister Scott Neaves sought a jail term of no longer than 15 months, saying O'Brien had already spent 35 days in custody which might be sufficient for parole release.

Mr Neaves said a medical report was consistent with O'Brien's previous criminal history of being a person struggling with addiction. She is now on an opioid program.

There had been a near 10-year gap in offending up to 2016. Mr Neaves said it showed O'Brien could rehabilitate.

He said circumstances had been unusual at the time of the assaults as O'Brien was being medicated to calm her when intoxicated with alcohol and while withdrawing from amphetamines.

She was also being held down (when she spat).

He said O'Brien's circumstances were such that her incapacity and judgment was a factor.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC said O'Brien had previously tried to bite the same police officer.

He said that when at the hospital and in custody, O'Brien had been aggressive, abusive, unco-operative and striking out when highly intoxicated.

O'Brien had bitten the officer twice and scratched him, scratched the nurse and spat on her shirt, which was particularly serious as she was previously diagnosed with Hepatitis C.

"That is an awful stress hanging over someone," Judge Horneman-Wren said.

Judge-Horneman-Wren found that O'Brien had relapsed back into methylamphetamine (ice) use 12 months before these "abhorrent" offences. She had since spent 100 days in drug rehabilitation facility.

O'Brien was sentenced to 15 months in jail for the most serious offences. Taking into account the 35 days spent in custody and the positive steps she has since taken, O'Brien will be released on parole on March 3 next year.