There are some crimes that would seem to clearly warrant jail time – and intimidating a police officer and wasting valuable police resources are way up there on the list.
Instead, in what appears to be an extraordinary act of leniency, a Maitland magistrate has handed a Thornton man guilty of both these offences a good behaviour bond.
The man in question, who appeared before Maitland Local Court last week, made 28 calls to Maitland police station during a three-hour phone frenzy in the early hours of August 21, 2012.
He repeatedly asked to speak to the female constable who was investigating him over an apprehended violence order and, when he eventually spoke to her, proceeded to threaten her.
Apprehended violence orders by their very nature are never easy matters for police to deal with.
But they are a necessary part of police work and officers should be able to carry out their duty in upholding the law without being threatened.
Who knows what impact the man’s repeated phone calls to Maitland police station may have had that day?
Were valuable police resources unnecessarily tied up dealing with this man on the end of the phone instead of fighting crime out on the streets?
For many years Maitland residents have demanded a greater and more visible police presence. But how can we expect people to join the police force when the legal system does not send a clear message to society that intimidation of police officers, especially female officers, is not on.
The magistrate accepted that the man’s drunkenness was no excuse for his behaviour. Nor was being in a “downward spiral” because of his drinking, personal circumstances and being unemployed. The majority of people struggling with alcohol, broken relationships and unemployment are still able to act with dignity.
Sometimes people deserve to be placed in custody and have the key thrown away for a period.