An 18-year-old Halls Head woman has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after biting a police officer’s neck, a decision the WA Police Union president has praised.
Chloe Shannen June Power-Leo faced the mandatory minimum six-month prison term after pleading guilty in the Mandurah Magistrates Court on November 20, 2018 to assaulting Constable Courtney Hay in prescribed circumstances.
But, Magistrate Vivian Edwards told the Mandurah Magistrates Court on Friday assaulting a police officer was a “grave breach of the law” and enforced a sentence higher than the minimum.
Power-Leo pleaded guilty to four other charges in November including disorderly behaviour in a police station, obstructing officers and failing to provide police with personal details.
The case was adjourned for a psychological report to be prepared, video footage to be considered and Constable Hay’s victim impact statement to be read.
Police prosecutor Nev Palmer told the court on Friday, Power-Leo was refused entry to Norma Jeans nightclub for being “heavily intoxicated” about 11pm on Friday, June 15, 2018.
This cannot and will not be tolerated by the court.Magistrate Vivian Edwards
Shortly after this, Power-Leo attempted to punch a stranger in Smart Street Mall.
Police arrested Power-Leo, who swore at officers and refused to exit the police car at Mandurah Police Station, he said.
When walking to the charge room, Power-Leo bit Constable Hay to the left side of her neck and refused to let go for five or six seconds, while the officer attempted to pull away.
“She was so violent she had to be taken to the Perth Watch House,” Sergeant Palmer said.
Magistrate Vivian Edwards must be commended for her decision to enforce a penalty greater than the mandatory minimum for this offence.WA Police Union president Harry Arnott
Constable Hay was treated at Peel Health Campus for bleeding and swelling, and awaited blood test results.
Sergeant Palmer said the sensitive location of the bite near Constable Hay’s neck veins could have ended in “more dire consequences”.
“If you have viewed the footage, you see the victim’s head was turned and she had no way to defend herself,” he said.
Sergeant Palmer said the sentence must act as a deterrence to other members in the community.
“If a police officer is assaulted, they (the offender) will be sentenced accordingly,” he said.
We have spoken with the officer involved and she is pleased with the outcome.WA Police Union president Harry Arnott
Power-Leo’s lawyer Jemin Jo told the court Power-Leo is medicated for depression and had attempted suicide three times since being charged.
Mr Jo said the teenager recently ended a “verbally, emotionally and physically abuse relationship” and had consumed alcohol in excess on the evening after a fight with her partner.
Her sister died when she was 15 years old and she had been kicked out of home on three occasions.
Ms Edwards told the court the maximum sentence for a police assault in prescribed circumstances was three years prison.
“The bite was extremely serious – the location and the saliva and blood,” she said. .
Constable Hay’s victim impact statement said she experienced tingling and numbness to her neck and jawline following the attack.
Her sleep has been disrupted and she has become anxious in certain situations.
Ms Edwards said the safety of officers was a matter of public importance.
“This cannot and will not be tolerated by the court,” she said
Ms Edwards said Power-Leo’s remorse was “somewhat questionable” after she portrayed herself as a victim during her psychiatric report on November 22, claiming she was “mistreated and ridiculed” by police.
At a later date, Power-Leo told court officers she had been struggling mentally during the interview.
Ms Edwards took into account Power-Leo’s young age and early plea of guilty.
Power-Leo was sentenced to 12-months prison and fined $600. She was made eligible for parole.
WA Police Union president Harry Arnott was pleased with the sentence.
“Magistrate Vivian Edwards must be commended for her decision to enforce a penalty greater than the mandatory minimum for this offence,” he said.
“This assault was a revolting act and the penalty sends a strong message to the community to think twice before assaulting a police officer.
“We have spoken with the officer involved and she is pleased with the outcome.”
A WA Police Union spokesman said Constable Hay is still working as a police officer.
She politely declined an interview with the Mail.