Spiritual healer avoids jail after spitting at fireman
A DRUNK mother who spat in the face of a Mackay firefighter trying to help has since done her masters in Reiki.
Catherine Michelle Parkes avoided spending any time in jail when she pleaded guilty to serious assault in public while affected, which has a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
Mackay District Court heard firefighters had been called to a park near the corner of Illawong Dr and Petrie St where a small fire had been lit.
Officers encountered an agitated Parkes, who ran into nearby mangroves while making suicide threats.
Crown legal officer Ryan Godfrey said she was later found in a dirt area behind the mangroves.
As emergency crews were trying to speak with her, she spat in the face of one of the fire officers.
Mr Godfrey said the spit went in the victim's eye.
The incident was caught on police body cam footage. The officer had to undergo disease testing, resulting in a nervous wait - the incident also impacted his work.
Defence barrister Matt Heelan said just before the spitting, his client had been yelling and screaming "just shoot me, just shoot me" at police.
"She's carrying on like a pork chop, the way that these people often do," Judge Julie Dick said.
Mr Heelan said his client had been drinking booze at home, sparking an argument with her husband that became violent.
She left the house and went to the park, where fire officers had been encouraging her to return home.
The court heard she panicked because she did not want to return home and ran away.
Mr Heelan said Parkes had wanted to plead guilty when the case was in the magistrates court jurisdiction but police prosecution elected to send the matter to the district court.
"She's also used the time to better herself, she's gone and developed her interest in spiritual healing," Mr Heelan said.
"She's done a Reiki masters."
The court heard while on bail the 37 year old had been presenting Reiki classes to predominantly women that "have been popular and well attended".
Judge Dick told Parkes "spitting in someone's face is a despicable thing to do" and the type of offence that generally resulted in a jail term.
"It affects people going about their duty and they are generally first responders and they generally are people who help the public," Judge Dick said.
Judge Dick accepted Parkes had a prejudicial childhood because of her father's chronic alcohol abuse.
"That should be a red flag to you - that difficulty with alcohol is very often handed down," Judge Dick said.
The court heard Parkes began using ice in her teens and had periods of instability, and had engaged with mental health services over the years.
Six references tendered in court spoke highly of Parkes.
A psychologist report stated at the time she had been at the time "significantly disturbed in mind and mood" which Judge Dick said lessened her moral culpability.
Parkes was jailed for nine months, wholly suspended, and must complete 40 hours mandatory community service.
Help is available. Phone:
Lifeline: 131 144
Beyond Blue: 1800 512 348
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467.