Spit­ting de­fence wins day

The Weekend Post - - News - PETE MARTINELLI

TWENTY-YEAR-OLD Jay­den Lank­ford avoided jail this week thanks to a le­gal ar­gu­ment about spit.

Lank­ford ap­peared in Cairns Mag­is­trates Court and pleaded guilty to se­ri­ous as­sault, ob­struct­ing po­lice and tres­pass­ing. The court heard he spat at a po­lice of­fi­cer after he was es­corted from a Cairns busi­ness where he was banned.

Lank­ford was drunk at the time and the nor­mally “car­ing, com­pas­sion­ate and co-op­er­a­tive” man ex­pressed his dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the state of af­fairs by spit­ting at po­lice.

The of­fend­ing pro­jec­tile brushed against the of­fi­cer’s cheek and ear – but missed his eyes, nose and mouth.

Nor­mally a spit­ting as­sault on po­lice would at­tract the sternest of sen­tences and an al­most guar­an­teed pri­son term. How­ever, some deft ar­gu­ment by le­gal ea­gle Steve Wet­ten- hall, de­fend­ing, con­vinced Mag­is­trate Janelle Brass­ing­ton that the big house may not be the best op­tion for Lank­ford.

He ar­gued Lank­ford’s spit­tle was “qual­i­ta­tively dif­fer­ent” to saliva launched with more mal­ice, such as in the case of back­packer Peter King, 30, who “spat blood and phlegm on to the com­plainant (of­fi­cer’s) face and into his mouth” at Air­lie Beach in 2008.

Mr Wet­ten­hall said that Lank­ford’s spit – from the back seat of the po­lice car – man­aged to evade a per­spex bar­rier and hit the of­fi­cer from be­hind.

“It is qual­i­ta­tively dif­fer­ent from stand­ing and spit­ting when there is no doubt it would hit the of­fi­cer,” he said. He said a com­mu­nity based or­der would be more ef­fec­tive in re­form­ing Lank­ford’s be­hav­iour.

Ms Brass­ing­ton fined Lank­ford $300 and sen­tenced him to six months in jail with im­me­di­ate pa­role.

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