17 March 2021
A sentence of community service instead of prison time for a young woman who bit a police officer on the chest while she was resisting arrest in Alice Springs is an outrageously light sentence, says the Northern Territory Police Association.
It is not good enough for a Local Court Judge to deliver such a soft sentence on an 18-year-old woman who the court heard was drunk and “verbally abused the police officers and when they tried to arrest her when she tried to break free and swung her arms around before biting an officer”, NTPA President Paul McCue said.
The male officer suffered bruising and had to get tested for diseases. “Being bitten or spat at is one of the most abhorrent crimes against our members we see, and it is becoming a far too common occurrence”, Mr McCue said.
Despite being convicted of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and behaving disorderly in a public place, the offender Shalayna Lechleitner, 18, avoided custody and was fined only $450 and sentenced to 136 hours of community work.
This sentence was handed down in the same week that footage depicting crime and violence in Alice Springs – including a police officer nearly being hit in the head by a shovel - was shown on national television on A Current Affair and which has been linked to weak bail laws for youths and a soft approach on crime generally.
“That is what our members put up with every single day they go to work, and they should not be subjected to this kind of violent treatment while simply protecting the community.,” Mr McCue said.
“It is not good enough from the courts.
“While we acknowledge the judge’s supportive comments that “an assault on police is an assault on our community”, this sentence is below community expectations.
The NTPA reflects community expectations that violent offenders including youths who assault police and emergency service workers should be dealt with appropriately by the courts and not be routinely given bail.
Our members deserve better.
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The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) is the industrial voice of all members of the Northern Territory Police Force. Read more via www.ntpa.com.au or join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NTPoliceAssociation