WE SAY: County Court decision sends dreadful message about how the judiciary values welfare of criminals above that of assaulted paramedics

HOW often do you see political leaders talk tough about penalties when they introduce legislation for new laws?

Invariably, be they Labor or Liberal, they will beat their proverbial chest and stress how offenders will be jailed for longer and fines will be hiked to massive amounts.

The stress is always put on the new maximum penalties.

But what is the point if the judiciary take the soft option after hearing the sob stories of offenders?

This is what has happened with the case of two women, Amanda Warren and Caris Underwood, who assaulted paramedics after going on a booze and drugs binge.

The Melbourne mothers decided to bash ambulance officer Paul Judd, repeatedly kicking the veteran of 40 years in the medical service as he attended a patient at a house.

The thugs were jailed by a magistrate (Warren eight months and Underwood four months) but County Court judge Barbara Cotterell decided on Tuesday the pair did not deserve to go to jail for their violence.

She deemed the duo had made “enormous” efforts to reshape their lives, having had “appalling” childhoods and drug, alcohol and mental health problems.

Those dramas were Warren and Underwood’s ‘get out of jail’ cards, allowing them to escape what should have been mandatory prison sentences for assaults on emergency workers.

Quite rightly there has been community outrage at the women being given corrections orders after having their prison terms quashed.

Warren will have to do 150 hours unpaid work over three years, while Underwood has two years to complete 50 hours.

The disparity in the sentences is shocking.

Mr Judd not surprisingly feels let down by the judicial system, as do ambulance officers across Victoria, including Wodonga’s who expressed their frustrations.

The public service of paramedics is diminished by this sentence and it sends a message that the past of brutes count more than the deeds that landed them in court.

The loopholes that allowed this pair to walk free should be changed and politicians, including Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy, are indicating they will be.

But will the judiciary care and put the welfare of emergency workers and the pain they suffer in such attacks above the courtroom wailing of barbarians?