08 November 2014

25: South Australian Criminal Justice System equals Justice for Criminals - Something Old

Admitting Guilty to Aggravated Assault to Paramedic = NO Conviction

Yesterday's appalling verdict by Magistrate Joanne Tracey on the 'one punch, king hit' attack on Paramedic Amanda Martin resulted in the defendant Maryann Hogg being let off with only having to pay for court costs, despite her admission of guilt! Although Magistrate Tracey admitted that on the night of the assault Maryann Hogg was both intoxicated and uncooperative, she went on to congratulate Hogg on her 'remarkable progress' on the intervention program she was compelled to complete by the court; she cited that due to Hogg's diagnosis of post traumatic stress (PTSD) from a previous assault from a partner she would not convict her of her own attack on another.

Despite the defendant suffering from PTSD after her own assault, she still chose to partake in binge drinking of alcohol and then went ahead and chose to also assault the very Paramedic that was assisting her on the night of another alleged domestic incident to her. On the one hand the Magistrate linked the defendants prior stressful incidents with her current behaviour, on the other she discussed how important it was to protect Paramedics who are doing their job and helping and do not deserve to be put at risk - it was never discussed how much stress and damage she has now inflicted on another, perhaps because there can be no justification for this! However, despite the power she had on that day to enforce the law Magistrate Tracey instead chose to side with the defendant and let her off with absolutely no recorded conviction or punishment. The case had even been adjourned until the afternoon to allow Hogg's solicitor to gather extra information suggested by Magistrate Tracey to allow the sentencing to be finalised by end of day. In the open court the reason provided was that Maryann Hogg was keen to not have a criminal conviction of aggravated assault recorded against her as it would prevent her registering as a Teacher of children. Magistrate Tracey in her decision to not record a conviction gave the green light for Hogg to now work with vulnerable children despite her admission of her own struggles with PTSD and alcohol issues. 

Although Magistrate Tracey acknowledged that the offence was serious and that the court should do what they can to help the safety of paramedics, she herself did not reflect this stance with her verdict. The ten page Victim Impact Statement by Amanda Martin about the affects the assault has had on not only her but on all of her colleagues was also acknowledged, again this was not reflected in the verdict. Unless the courts have the courage to actually convict the perpetrators of these disgusting attacks on Paramedics then all the words and acknowledgment in the world means nothing! Action speaks louder than words.

In 2009 the State Government changed legislation to include Paramedics in an aim to protect them under the law from common assaults by increasing the charge to aggravated assault. However, to date there has not been a conviction under this new law despite the dramatic increase in assaults on Paramedics, with figures nearly doubling over a recent two year period Sharp-increase-in-assaults-on-sa-paramedics.

At no point during the so called Justice System was the victim truly taken into account. The victim has gone through 12 months of her own stress and is still suffering from the horrific injuries sustained from that night. She was king hit completely by surprise in a one punch cowardly attack by Hogg causing not only concussion, but also whip lash injuries that were so severe she now has permanent cervical disc damage and daily nerve issues from this injury; requiring constant physiotherapy, multiple doctors visits and high doses of medication to ease the pain. The same victim had to deal with the psychological trauma inflicted upon her from that night and after having to take two months off work to recover from the bulk of the injuries and learning to heavily rely on her husband to help with caring for six children, who also was required to take time off work to do this. She has had to battle with her own fears of returning to work, to knowing that putting herself back in that position of being vulnerable to attack over and over in each and every shift was something she couldn't stop. She has to deal with that trauma each and every day. As does her Paramedic partner from that night who was also witness to the assault and the effects upon her; as do all of her Paramedic colleagues who constantly battle with dealing with aggressive patients and just hope that they can get through their shift without sustaining a permanent disabling injury.

How do I know that she has to deal with that and how damn hard that is, especially when whilst I type this blog my fingers are tingling and numb again. My neck is sore and aches from the constant cramping of muscles in my neck, the recurrent headache is threatening to return. The reason I know this more than any other is that I am the victim of this malicious attack, I am that Paramedic in the photo. I am Amanda Martin and I was attacked doing my job. I was not supported through the minefield of legal issues surrounding my case by my employer, instead I was strongly supported and encouraged and advised by my union, the Ambulance Employees Association (AEA). It is through that same support I will be seeking an appeal for this injustice, not just for my case but for all the many cases that will no doubt follow. There is no point in having a law to protect Paramedics if no Magistrate is prepared to enforce it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave comments :)

Total Pageviews