Zero tolerance: Woman jailed after assault on ambulance paramedic

*Scroll down to read the reaction to the sentence from local paramedics. 

A TAMWORTH woman has been jailed for shoving and threatening to kill an ambulance paramedic, in one of the most severe sentences handed down for an attack of its kind.

Stephanie Morgan was intoxicated when she unleashed a tirade of abuse and assaulted a paramedic in an ambulance en route to Tamworth hospital on June 8.

Magistrate Michael Holmes was scathing of the 36-year-old’s actions in sentencing in Tamworth Local Court this week, warning any attack on paramedics wouldn’t be tolerated.

Magistrate Holmes said the court had “zero tolerance” for violence against ambulance paramedics, and the only punishment available was jail.

The 36-year-old was jailed for 12 months – one of the longest sentences handed down for intimidation and common assault on a paramedic, according to the Ambulance Service of NSW.

“It beggars belief that a person could in any way attack a paramedic, whose sole intention is to provide emergency medical aid and support a patient in need,” ambulance service chief Ray Creen told The Leader. 

“Any attack or abuse of our frontline staff is completely unacceptable.”

Ambulance zone manager, Inspector Ray Tait, said alcohol and drug-fuelled assaults were common, but paramedics were there to care for patients.

“Unprovoked assaults, like this one, are totally unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” he said.

In sentencing, Magistrate Holmes said the incident was totally unacceptable because the paramedics had been there to do a job: to help Morgan. 

Morgan, who pleaded guilty, was ordered to spend at least six months behind bars, meaning she won’t be eligible for release before January next year.

The court heard that paramedics had been called to a Cole Rd home just before 10pm on June 8, after reports an intoxicated woman had sustained a laceration to her finger.

A decision was made to transport Morgan for further treatment, but she turned on the officers shortly before reaching the hospital.

“I am going to f****** kill you, you white ****,” Morgan shouted at the paramedic, the police facts read.

Morgan had taken her seatbelt off, and threatened to headbutt the paramedic and kick him through the window.

She then threatened several times to kill him.

Another paramedic driving the ambulance called for police and hospital security to assist, before Morgan “put her left hand out and shoved the complainant in the upper left-hand shoulder area”.

The court was told the paramedic tried several times to calm Morgan down and asked her to get out of the ambulance, before she “rushed towards the complainant and tried to hit him with her right hand.”

Security staff removed Morgan.

She was arrested by police, charged with intimidation and common assault, and granted bail.

THE Ambulance Service has welcomed the lengthy jail sentence handed to a Tamworth woman which it said showed how serious the issue is.

Zone Manager Inspector Ray Tait said while the paramedic was not injured in this case, any assault on staff has a flow on effect.

"It takes one officer off the job and that means we are depleted in resources to send to other people," he said.

"This sends a clear message to the small minority of the community that think our paramedics are punching bags, that it won't be tolerated, one, by the Ambulance Service and, two, by the justice system."

According to the Ambulance Service, assaults on paramedics have jumped by 25 incidents in the first six months of 2014, compared to the same period last year.

There have been 97 separate assaults or incidents of abuse across the state including paramedics who have been strangled, head butted, kicked, punched and bitten.

There have been at least three incidents reported in the local region this year including a paramedic assaulted in Boggabri in April.

"One incident is too many," Ambulance Chief Executive Ray Creen said.

"NSW Ambulance supports the full prosecution of anyone who physically abuses our frontline staff."


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