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Airlie painter spat half-eaten sandwich at hospital worker

Keith Stephen Johnson, 38, from Airlie Beach faced Mackay Magistrates Court on Wednesday, pleading guilty to serious assault of a public officer. He spat at a hospital worker while being treated.
Keith Stephen Johnson, 38, from Airlie Beach faced Mackay Magistrates Court on Wednesday, pleading guilty to serious assault of a public officer. He spat at a hospital worker while being treated. Facebook

TWO people in two days have faced court confessing to abusing Mackay Base Hospital staff.

Keith Stephen Johnson spat a half-eaten sandwich at a worker while he was drunk because he was unhappy about his supposed treatment at the hospital.

The 38-year-old, who has a history of violence and long-standing issues with alcohol, fronted Mackay Magistrates Court on Wednesday, pleading guilty to serious assault of a public officer on March 25.

Meanwhile, Skye Louise Gerrey, 21, pleaded guilty to public nuisance on Tuesday, after hurling abuse at hospital workers, threatening them and struggling with security on August 22.

Her lawyer told the court Gerrey - who was placed on a good behaviour order -had mistakenly taken an MDMA (ecstasy) pill, instead of valium before attending the hospital.

When it came to Johnson's case, police prosecutor Senior Constable Duncan Erskine provided the agreed facts and said Johnson, who appeared by videolink, had already spent time in jail.

Johnson, a painter from Airlie Beach who was on an Intensive Corrections Order at the time of the spitting assault, had been taken into custody after skipping his court appearance.

He also pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a charge of failing to appear.

Defence Solicitor Daniel Guerin, of Legal Aid Queensland, said his client had run into an old friend in Mackay and was taken to hospital in the midst of a drinking session.

He said Johnson's spit did not actually land on the hospital worker.

" ... it's not a matter where medical tests were required, because while the spit was in the direction of [the worker] it didn't land on him,” Mr Guerin said.

"He (Johnson) said the spit occurred in disgust in relation to his quality of treatment he was receiving.”

Mr Guerin said Johnson had tried to address "issues” with alcohol in the past and would again make efforts to stay sober.

Magistrate Scott Luxton summed up the case, describing Johnson's actions as "disgusting”, but noting the spit missed its target.

"That is relevant in terms of penalty. Whilst the act in and of itself of spitting towards another is a disgusting act, it's accepted none of the spittle landed on the officer,” he said.

Mr Luxton added Johnson had also tossed a drink at a worker at the hospital, and his actions wouldn't be tolerated.

Taking into account a timely plea and 42 days already served, he sentenced Johnson to six months jail, with a parole release date of October 2, and fined him $400.

Topics:  airlie beach keith stephen johnson mackay base hospital mackay court mackay crime mackay magistrates court serious assault


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