Keep me in prison, Castlemaine woman asks

Keep me in prison, Castlemaine woman asks

A Castlemaine woman has successfully applied to the County Court to spend more time in jail.

Vanessa Baird, 35, has been serving a three-month sentence at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre since May 18, after being sentenced for assaulting a paramedic and resisting police.

But the recovering alcoholic wanted the sentence increased, and a community corrections order (CCO) removed, in a bid to help her ongoing rehabilitation.

The court was told that on September 21 last year Baird was drinking and taking drugs in her caravan in Chewton when she rang a suicide hotline saying she was depressed. An ambulance was called to Baird’s address, but she became abusive to the paramedics and police were called.

Crown prosecutor Peter Jones said Baird was “very intoxicated” by this point and resisted police.

“She tried to bite the arm of a police officer and spat in the face of a female ambulance officer,” Mr Jones said.

“The paramedic was very upset, crying and very angry.

“She suffered continual anxiety that she may have contracted a disease.”

Baird’s defence counsel Cameron Baker said his client was not appealing her three-month jail term, but rather the CCO, which would dictate a drug and alcohol treatment plan upon her release.

“Ms Baird believes she will not be able to comply with a CCO when she is released,” he said. “Her only chance of rehabilitation is if she is incarcerated.

“Through her time in custody she has seen ladies leave on community correction orders and break those orders straight away.

“She doesn’t want to breach the order and then go right back in.”

Mr Baker said his client wasn’t becoming institutionalised and she wasn’t saying she couldn’t cope in the outside world. “Rather she feels this is the best way for her not to get into trouble when she’s released.”

Judge Meryl Sexton said it was up to the court to decide on appropriate punishment.

“If I agreed to your submissions, she would be out in a period of time with no supervision,” she said to Mr Baker. “It’s a risk I need to take into account in terms of protecting the community.”

But Ms Sexton said there was no point to a CCO if the participant did not agree to it. She agreed to resentence Baird to six months’ jail – three extra months in exchange for the CCO.

“Your time in custody away from alcohol and drugs might be the best way to see you clear of substance abuse when you get out,” she said.