Woman sentenced for horrific hospital syringe attack
HER victims were tasked with keeping people safe, but Amber Michelle Daldy-Rowe had little regard for anyone's welfare.
A child was among the group ushered from Lismore Base Hospital's emergency department when the she became agitated after being asked to leave on November 10 last year.
The 40-year-old produced an uncapped syringe from her handbag and lunged at two of the seven staff members who'd surrounded her.
As security officers pounced, she scratched one of them with the syringe, inflicting a 33cm scratch to his arm.
Daldy-Rowe claimed to have HIV and said: "I've killed you".
She was restrained until police arrived and it took four officers to remove her from the department.
She yesterday faced Lismore District Court for sentencing for using an offensive weapon to commit an indictable offence, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and resisting police. Two counts of common assault were taken into account in this sentencing.
Senior Constable David Henderson read a statement on behalf of the injured man, shedding light on the "prolonged and ongoing affect" of the attack.
The court heard of the security guard's ongoing discomfort and the psychological injuries he still lived with more than a year on.
He'd been subjected to a six-month process before being cleared of any infection resulting from the injury.
During that time, he was unable to kiss his wife or share food with his family.
"It's left its mark not just on my but on those around me," he said.
"I've always been able to separate myself from the physical and verbally abusive behaviour … this is not the case now.
"I have loved my work but I'm unable to continue to do so in my current condition."
He and the other victim had both suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident.
His colleague reported constant nightmares as a result.
Defence solicitor Philip Crick told the court of his client's traumatic background, including exposure to violence and drugs from a young age and noted the spontaneity of the attack.
The court heard Daldy-Rowe wrote a letter to the injured victim in August and had "expressed sorrow" over the incident.
The Crown prosecutor said the offence warranted a "significant period of imprisonment".
"It (occurred) in a short space of time but there were a large number of people directly at risk," he said.
He said health care workers were often in a "vulnerable situation" in that they were expected to act "respectfully and carefully and with dignity" even when patients became abusive.
Judge Warwick Hunt said he must balance Daldy-Rowe's "fairly horrific background" with the serious nature of the offence.
"The offending itself was very serious and had not-insignificant impacts," Judge Hunt said.
For the assaults, he sentenced Daldy-Rowe to four years and three months' prison, dating from February 10 this year.
With time already served, her nine-month sentence for resisting police had already expired.
She will not be eligible for parole until August 9, 2021 and her full sentence will expire on May 9, 2023.
Before leaving the courtroom, Daldy-Rowe addressed her victims.
"I'm sorry to everyone, I really am," she said.
"Whether you believe me or not, I really am."
Outside court, Sen-Constable Henderson said he hoped the case send a message about how people treat healthcare workers.
"Health workers must be treated with respect and must not be assaulted in their workplace," he said.
"I commend the bravery and courage of all the wardsmen and security staff and I'm nominating them for an Australian bravery award.
"These people are doing a very difficult job and they're there to help people and they shouldn't be assaulted."