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Why paramedic basher James Haberfield’s sentence may not be appealed, despite widespread backlash

The ambulance union, Premier Daniel Andrews, and many in the public have called for the sentence against paramedic basher James Haberfield to be appealed.

Ambulance union head Danny Hill said yesterday he was “dumbfounded” by magistrate Simon Zebrowski’s decision not to sentence Haberfield to jail time.

Daniel Andrews urged for the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider an appeal.

The 22-year-old was spared the mandatory six month jail sentence for assaulting an emergency services worker.

The magistrate ruled that his autism and mental illness made him exempt from the mandatory sentence.

Greg Barns, criminal justice spokesman from the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said there is a possibility the sentence may be appealed.

“Because it was in the Magistrates’ Court it can be heard again in the County Court,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

If the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) thinks the magistrate has made a technical error in the way he has applied or interpreted the legislation the matter can also be taken to the Supreme Court.

But Mr Barns said neither public opinion, nor the opinions of politicians, should influence whether or not there is an appeal.

“The DPP has got to look at the facts of this particular case … psychiatric and psychological material, the facts in the case, the plea that was made,” he said.

“That’s what’s relevant.”

Mr Barns said jailing Haberfield is not straightforward, and may lead to a future risk to the community.

“He was having a pretty florid episode. Psychotic. You’ve got to take that into account.

“What would jail do to that person?

“Far too often we send people to jail with mental illness and they come out a lot worse because there just is not the rehabilitation capacity or the psychiatric care capacity within prison.

“Unfortunately, of course, people come back onto the streets… they commit further crimes. It’s actually not a good investment.”

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