State government move to close loophole for emergency service mandatory jail laws

Published by the Herald Sun on 3 March 2020

Mandatory jail sentence laws for thugs that bash emergency service workers will be tightened after several criminals have walked free from court.

Mandatory jail sentence laws for thugs that bash emergency service workers will be tightened by the state government after several people have walked free from court.

The Sentencing Amendment (Emergency Worker Harm) Bill 2020 will be introduced to the state parliament today to close the loophole in the current law that requires a minimum six months for anyone who attacks an officer on duty.

The move comes after James Haberfield, 22, sidestepped mandatory sentencing laws in a decision handed down in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in August.

He avoided a prison term after admitting to attacking the paramedics while on a cocktail of drugs and was placed on an 18-month Community Correction Order instead.

The sentence sparked outrage among the community as well as prompted anger from the paramedics and police unions.

Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the new legislation to be introduced today would mean people who assault emergency workers can only claim “special reasons” in court for very narrow set of mental impairments.

Under the change if a person’s mental state is self-induced from drunkenness or drugs use they will not be able to rely on the “special reasons” clause and claim lower culpability.

“Today I will be introducing new laws that will further strengthen these laws,” Ms Hennessey said.

“They will make it very clear there a are minimum presumptions around sentencing when it comes to harming emergency workers,” she said.

“We are lifting and strengthening the test to make it very clear, even when a person comes from a mental impairment that there is a presumption in favour of a term of imprisonment,” she said.

hopeful the legislation would work.

“What we saw following the government’s initial legislative reform was some high profile cases where the intent of parliament wasn’t felt at the court door,” he said.”We brought that to the attention of the government and to its credit, it has announced some reforms that would see some of those loopholes hopefully tightened.”Mr Gatt said he accepted some forms of mental health such a dementia deserve to have the “special reasons” apply.