Woman charged with trying to strangle carer and arson

A 23-year-old woman charged with allegedly assaulting five of her carers and trying to set fire to her supported living unit has been denied an application in Orange Local Court to be dealt with under the Mental Health Act.

The woman, who has been living in a unit under the care of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, is charged with trying to strangle one carer with a car seatbelt, snatching a syringe and threatening a nurse, hitting one carer in the face with a remote control and spitting on two nurses.

The woman is also charged with attempting to set fire to her supervised unit, and other charges of destroying property at the residence when she flew into fits of rage.

Magistrate Terry Lucas was not satisfied carers could control the violent outbursts of the woman who will remain in custody in Bathurst jail until her next court appearance in April when she will be dealt with under criminal law.

During the application by solicitor Arjun Chhabra who was acting for the woman, a member of the team managing the accused told the court that staff met on a regular basis to review the woman’s behaviour.

The witness said the accused was living in a unit specially designed for a resident with a propensity to arson.

The team leader also told the court the accused had complex behaviours and when she was moved to Orange from Sydney the development of a care plan had to take into consideration 40 pages of notes about the woman’s issues and behaviours.

Police facts in the case reveal following one assault on a carer the alleged victim a security guard and other staff members locked themselves in an office and called police.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Andy Bobin opposed bail for the woman to return to her supervised living arrangements, saying he was concerned the woman would repeat her behaviour of violence and assaults.

He said he acknowledged some changes had been made within the facility to monitor the behaviour of the accused but said it didn’t go far enough following another alleged assault in the last week.

The witness told Sergeant Bobin in relation to the assault with the syringe arrangements had been changed to take her to Bloomfield for her injections and staff would be given additional training to deal with the complex behaviour issues of the accused.

Mr Chhabra told the court the accused who has previously been granted section 32 application for other incidents spoke to him about her time in custody.

“It has been a few days now that she has been in custody and it has been an eye-opener for her,” Mr Chhabra said.

He said with time already spent in custody it would satisfy community interests in relation to the seriousness of the offences.

“Penal action has been taken and now it is about medical and psychological treatment,” he said.

Sergeant Bobin said releasing the accused with her record and medical history was “setting her up to fail”, and he was not confident plans in place would provide any guarantees about repeat behaviour.

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