Australia: 32-year-old man sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for biting police officer


HIV infected man faces court for bloody attack on Gold Coast police officer

June 9, 2023
Source: The Courier Mail

A HIV-positive man who knew he was carrying the virus deliberately bit a Gold Coast police officer so hard he drew blood and tore his uniform.

Southport [Queensland] man X, 32, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment over the sickening assault and released on parole after serving a year behind bars.

The police officer was forced to undergo a year of tests before he was cleared of any disease.

In a victim impact statement, the officer described the shock, panic and anxiety he experienced following the attack.

X pleaded guilty to a string of charges in the Southport District Court this week, including serious assault of a police officer, obstruct police and wilful damage.

During an arrest in Surfers Paradise on May 13 last year, X bit the officer on the forearm so hard he drew blood and tore his uniform, the court was told.

The 32-year-old was released on bail after the assault.

Three days later, X attacked the same officer when police attended his bail residence. During this encounter he yelled, held up his fist towards police and squeezed the officer’s genitals while being arrested, the court was told. X then started growling and chomping his teeth at another police officer in an attempt to bite them.

Judge Jodie Wooldridge noted the Southport man was aware of his HIV-positive status when he bit the officer. Judge Wooldridge spoke directly to the 32-year-old when she referred to the officer’s victim impact statement during sentencing.

“Within that statement, he refers to the pain you caused him at the time you inflicted the bite upon him”, she told X. “It was the following day he was advised of your HIV-positive status and he also refers to the shock, panic and anxiety that information caused him”.

The victim police officer had to undergo 12 months of testing before he was cleared of contracting any disease.

She said the officer described having an “ever-present and significant” concern for his health during the year of testing he underwent.

“(The officer) himself acknowledges that as a police officer, he will at times be placed in dangerous situations” Judge Wooldridge said.

“However that in no way minimises your criminality here in deliberately biting at the officer in the way you did, particularly knowing yourself to be the carrier of a communicable disease, such as HIV. Police officers need to be able to go about their work in the community and on behalf of the community without being subject to such violence and put in such risk.”

She said biting the officer added a circumstance of aggravation to the serious assault charge, increasing the maximum penalty to 14 years imprisonment.

X’s defence counsel James Grehan, instructed by Vered Turner Lawyers, said the Southport man and his four siblings grew up in poverty in the Philippines. He had lived in Australia since 2015. Mr Grehan said X helped his family financially after both his parents died. He noted the 32-year-old had spent just over a year in pre-sentence custody.