A repeat assailant claims to have relapsed due to COVID-19, after her main face-to-face support systems were interrupted. File Photo.
A repeat assailant claims to have relapsed due to COVID-19, after her main face-to-face support systems were interrupted. File Photo.

Repeat assault offender blames COVID-19 for relapse

A CHERBOURG woman has landed herself back in court for fighting after COVID-19 interrupted the face-to-face counselling and anger management services she relies on, a court heard.

Appearing before Cherbourg Magistrates Court on Wednesday September 24, Kalatena Priestly pleaded guilty to two counts of common assault dating back to June 14, 2020.

Police prosecutor sergeant Pepe Gangemi said at 11.30am that morning, both Priestly and the complainant attended a gathering on Barber Street, Cherbourg. The aggrieved saw Priestly walking toward her and attempted to get in a vehicle to leave.

“Before she entered that vehicle, the defendant threw a number of punches, making contact with her arms and body. The victim’s friends attempted to get between them, but the defendant continued to throw punches over the victim’s friends,” sgt Gangemi said.

“The victim climbed into the passenger‘s seat to flee, but the defendant continued to punch before being dragged away.”

Sgt Gangemi said the victim had already been assaulted once by Priestly that morning, after she was called to a party that had turned violent by her niece.

“The victim attended and saw a large crowd around her niece fighting in the street. She tried to break it up. The defendant came out of the crowd to verbally abuse her, and then swung her closed right fist, making contact with the victim‘s right cheek,” Sgt Gangemi said.

“The victim did try to punch back to defend herself, before a group of people separated them.”

Sgt Gangemi said while no injuries were reported, Priestly does have a history of violence and these two most recent offences were in breach on a nine month probation order made earlier this year.

This relates to an assault occasioning bodily harm charge from March 25, the court heard, with the March offence itself in breach of a probation order made last November for a common assault.

“There was then another one back in 2017 and another one back in 2009,” he said.

CRAICCH’s counsellor Ms Denise Russell said Priestley had been doing really well on her probation order, which required her to attend grief counselling and anger management, the court heard. However, the interruption in the face-to-faces services provided under the probation order due to COVID-19 led to a relapse.

Magistrate Andrew Sinclair said the primary focus in Priestly’s sentence would be on rehabilitation, placing her on a further period of probation rather than a suspended prison sentence. This is due to her active engagement with the resources provided under her previous probation order, and to give her another chance to act as a better role model to her four children.

“Hopefully when you’re bringing your kids up, you can teach them that resolving things with your fists will only end you up in court,” Magistrate Sinclair said.

“You’ve heard the prosecutor suggest that a period of imprisonment, albeit suspended, is on the cards. But since you’ve been taking advantage of probation I’m prepared to give you one more opportunity.”

Priestly was convicted and placed on probation for a period of 18 months.

A conviction has been recorded.

South Burnett

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