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Fire starter spits in the eye of authority

AN IPSWICH mum spat in the face of a police officer as he arrested her for starting a fire in another woman's bedroom.

Tammy Maree Duffy pleaded guilty in Ipswich District Court to charges of wilful damage, burglary and two counts of serious assault.

Prosecutor Ryder Reid said the 40-year-old had been living at a residential care facility in North Booval when the incident occurred on February 28.

Duffy crept into the room of one of the female residents about 7pm and set fire to a rubber mat while the woman slept.

The incident was captured on security camera footage and showed Duffy revisiting the room to check the progress of the fire.

After about 10 minutes fire alarms sounded, which awoke the sleeping woman moments before staff at the facility extinguished the flames.

Mr Ryder said it was fortunate that only the mat and a small wooden table were damaged and that no one was injured.

When police arrived, Duffy denied starting the fire and spat in the eye of one of the officers when he tried to take her into custody.

As Duffy was escorted to the police van, she spat in the same officer's face again during a pat down search.

Mr Ryder said Duffy's criminal history began when she was 22, and contained at least seven incidents where she had spat in the face of police or corrective service officers.

Defence barrister Steve Kissick said Duffy suffered from a significant psychiatric condition in which she had difficulty controlling her impulses.

On the day of the offence, Mr Kissick said his client had been drinking alcohol and not been taking the medication for her condition.

Mr Kissick said Duffy was "deeply remorseful" for the way she acted out from time to time and that she could not offer an explanation to why she lit the fire.

He said she was back on her medication and that prior to the incident her last spitting offence was in 2008.

Judge Gregory Koppenol said spitting in the face of an officer was a serious offence that showed contempt for authority.

"Apart from the disgusting and revolting nature of the act it also involves a serious risk to the victim's health," he said.

"In respect to setting fire to the mat, you were fortunate that incident didn't result in more tragic circumstances."

Judge Koppenol noted Duffy had served already served 229 days in presentence custody.

She was sentenced to 30 months jail and released on parole.

Topics:  burglary, ipswich district court, serious assault, wilful damage




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