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Man who bashed paramedic after music festival avoids jail again

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A man who escaped a mandatory prison sentence for bashing a paramedic has again avoided jail, following an appeal.

James Haberfield was on drugs when he punched a female paramedic in the face and pinned her down, putting her in a headlock in January.

A court has heard drugs triggered Haberfield’s underlying mental illness and he was unaware he had schizophrenia.

The judge found special reasons do exist and Haberfield’s impaired mental function was not caused solely by drugs.

Michael Tinney said Haberfield avoided prison by “the skin of his teeth”, handing down an 18 month community correction order.

Paramedics were in court supporting the victim, Monica, who has not been able to return to work since the attack.

Click PLAY below to hear her speak outside court

Danny Hill, secretary of the Victorian Ambulance Union, told 3AW Drive the laws needed changing.

He said there’d always be complex issues in each case, which meant the law was far from mandatory.

“A key part of the legislation that was a problem here was the finding of special circumstances, where the person has a mental impairment that is not solely caused by drug use,” Mr Hill said.

“We want to see that changed so that it has to be taken into account if, for example, somebody has drug use and a mental health condition but 95 per cent of the issue that caused them to be impaired was the drugs, then that person should really be going to prison if they’ve assaulted one of our members.

“Because of how the legislation is worded, if mental health is just one per cent of a factor, then they’re not going to jail.”

Click PLAY below to hear more on 3AW Drive

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