Bad Grandma fights jail due to virus fear
A GRANDMOTHER is fighting to stay out of jail for fear of contracting coronavirus after being convicted of assaulting her 72-year old ex-lover.
The Ipswich woman, 69-year-old Cheryl Frost, raised health concerns at the prospect of being jailed when sentencing was discussed before Ipswich District Court.
Five months after a jury in Ipswich District Court found Frost, her son Dieter Clarke, 43, and another family member Bruce Duncan, 51, guilty of assaulting Spanish born retired builder Salvador Almagro, their sentences have yet to be finalised. The trio was found guilty of committing burglary in company, assaults causing bodily harm, and deprivation of liberty following their defended trial. The charges relate to incidents in January 2017.
Frost, from Yamanto, Clarke a truck driver from Hatton Vale, and Duncan from Gatton, all remain on bail following the verdict last October.
Appearing before Judge Dennis Lynch QC, the Crown prosecution and defence legal representatives made their written submissions on sentence but some matters were mentioned before the court.
Mitch Rawlings, the barrister for Frost, argued that her health was an issue if sentenced to any actual jail time and COVID-19 could be considered a special feature.
"Living in fear will cause additional anxiety in going to jail. It is the aspects of (her) health that are of concern," Mr Rawlings said.
"It is a logical consideration if the virus gets into a corrections facility it will spread like wildfire. That is the fear."
Mr Rawlings said the situation made a prison sentence more arduous with a heightened level of stress on a person and a 69-year-old woman was more susceptible to COVID-19.
He also said the jury had been deprived of hearing evidence alleging domestic violence, saying that this aspect was intended "to put in correct context what Mrs Frost's belief was at the time" of the offence.
Crown prosecutor Clayton Wallis said the reasons for Frost leaving the relationship, "do not matter. What matters is she has been convicted of being involved in a plan to extract summary justice".
Mr Wallis said given the interplay of the current COVID-19 pandemic in sentencing there were no blanket rules that prison sentences could not be imposed. But conceded that a complete lock-down of facilities may be of relevance.
Mr Wallis said there was no evidence before the court the virus had made its way into the Brisbane Women's facility although one staff member at another facility had been diagnosed.
"The fear of contracting it is equal in prison as out in the community," Mr Wallis said.
With no weapons used and minor injuries, Mr Rawlings said Frost had not been involved in any violence, but was party to it.
The Crown also sought restitution for new reading glasses to replace ones that had been broken, and for damage done to a door and a roller door.
Nathan Edridge barrister for Clarke said his client had no knowledge at the time of any allegation of domestic violence.
"He had some knowledge of Cheryl's personal concerns, he had no knowldege of details," he said.
He said Clarke suffers PTSD (after witnessing a truck accident fatality) and if jailed weight should be given to COVID-19 potentially threatening the good order of the prison, and safety and welfare of prisoners.
He said Clarke could pay immediate restitution for the damaged doors.
Justin Thomas, barrister for Duncan, who is Clarke's brother-in-law, said there had been only one punch delivered upstairs in the house.
It was not the most serious example and left bruising around Mr Almagro's eye.
He said Duncan would pay compensation for new glasses.
Judge Dennis Lynch QC reserved his decision until he reads the more detailed written submissions and other medical material.
Bail was continued and the trio will be sentenced on April 8.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Read more stories from court reporter Ross Irby.