A Victorian man who assaulted a female paramedic after returning from Rainbow Serpent festival has avoided jail this week, despite the states recently implemented mandatory sentencing for people who assault emergency workers.

Said Victorian man, 22-year-old James Haberfield, is reported to have consumed “a cornucopia” of drugs while attending this year’s edition of the event, including ecstasy, ice, MDMA and ketamine, reports Nine News.

Upon his return to Melbourne on January 29th, Haberfield attended a Coburg home, knocking on the door before entering, understandably terrifying the residents whom he did not know.

When paramedics arrived to collect Haberfield, they observed him being in a “acutely psychotic state” while in the back of the ambulance. He suddenly became violent, punching paramedic Monica Woods in the face before wrapping his arms around her and constricting her.

After pressing their duress button, the two attending paramedics escaped from the ambulance before Harberfield was sedated with midazolam and transported to Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Outside the court today, Ms Wood detailed the long-lasting effects of the assault, which took a month to recover from, including PTSD. “The psychological impacts will be longer lasting,” she said.

Following this week’s trial, Haberfield has been has been remanded to mandatory treatment and monitoring, one part of the state’s mandatory sentencing for people who assault emergency workers. However, he avoided the mandatory jail sentence that comes with the charges.

Magistrate Simon Zebrowski explained that the drugs in Haberfield’s system were only part of the reason behind his compromised mental state with Haberfield also having a pre-existing autism spectrum disorder and a major depressive disorder.

A psychiatric expert deemed Haberfield would have an elevated risk of suicide should be be put behind bars. Magistrate Zebrowki also took issue with sending the “mortified, dismayed and deeply ashamed” Haberfield to jail, believing it would have a “catastrophic effect” on the man’s future.

The Victorian Ambulance Union has pushed back, stating they’re “incredibly angry” at the verdict. The Unions General Secretary Danny Hill labelled the mandatory jail sentence, introduced last October as “a dud.”

“This case of a male offender – who was drug affected – putting a female paramedic in a headlock and punching her in the face … if that doesn’t reach the test of what requires a mandatory sentence, I don’t know what does,” he said.

“Paramedics are going to be left wondering what is it going to take before the courts will send a strong message.”

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