Knife wielder escapes jail for now with rare sentence option
A 45-YEAR-old Grafton woman who threatened two people and police with a knife has been released into the community without reporting conditions until May next year.
Local court magistrate Roger Prowse chose to use Section 11 of the Criminal Sentencing Act to deal with Inger Malcolm in Grafton Local Court on Monday.
Malcolm was facing charges of being armed with intent to commit an indictable offence, wield a knife in a public place, assault occasioning bodily harm and common assault.
A charge of having custody of an offensive implement in a public place was withdrawn.
Section 11 allows a magistrate to defer sentence of a person convicted of a crime to allow for rehabilitation or the offender to participate in an intervention program or any other reason the court decides is appropriate.
In Malcolm's case the decision to apply Section 11 belonged more to the magistrate rather than defence solicitor Paul O'Connor.
The magistrate seemed to have little patience with the solicitor's account of his client's chequered history.
Mr O'Connor said this included long-term alcohol abuse, family troubles and serious illness on one side balanced by achievements like a degree in psychology and successfully assisting her brother through a troubled period of his life on the other.
He said in the lead up to the incident in May, Malcolm's mother had seriously injured herself in a fall and she had fallen sick with shingle, causing her to turn to alcohol abuse.
Mr Prowse cut his address short.
"I believe this was quite serious criminal behaviour directed towards two people known to her,” he said.
"They didn't deserve to suffer that sort of assault in an area of Prince St that is largely residential.”
Mr O'Connor said he was confident his client had "turned the corner” with her alcohol abuse.
Mr Prowse was sceptical.
"She's been on four section nine (good behaviour) bonds in the past, which have clearly had no impact on her,” he said.
He was also dismissive of a psychologist's report which said Malcolm was not likely to re-offend.
"Those reports could show Adolph Hitler was not likely to re-offend,” Mr Prowse said.
"They're so well thought out, it must have been some American that came up with them.”
The magistrate turned down Mr O'Connor's request for an Intensive Corrections Order, asking if he was instead making a submission for Section 11 adjournment.
"Yes, I suppose I am,” Mr O'Connor said.
Mr Prowse said the beauty of a Section 11 finding was he was able to impose a jail sentence at the end of the period.
He did not impose any conditions on her other than the general condition to be of good behaviour. Her case has been adjourned until May 27, 2019.