Hep C woman bites cop while trying to flee Gympie court
A FORMER ice user's incurable disease became a potentially lethal weapon when she bit a police officer during a failed escape bid from Gympie Magistrates Court.
That was the story told in Gympie District Court this week when Elizabeth Marie Burns, 28, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of dangerous driving, attempting to escape custody and two counts of serious assault on police, one aggravated by the biting. And it was not the first time.
The court was told Burns had on June 3, 2013, been convicted in Gympie Magistrates Court of assaulting a police officer and biting him on the arm.
Crown prosecutor Aleksandra Nikolic told the court Burns' past showed "a complete lack of regard” for court orders, including nine breaches of probation, five breaches of suspended jail sentences and breaches of community service, intensive correctional and fine option orders.
She had also breached bail and licence disqualifications.
On July 6, 2017, Burns was jailed but released on parole, but breached that parole after about a month.
Further offences were dealt with on September 18, 2018, when she was sentenced in Gympie Magistrates Court to 12 months jail, with parole after four months.
It was at that point that Burns headed for the courtroom door, beginning to run as police responded.
The incident, caught on CCTV, showed police, including prosecutors Mick Phillips and Lisa Manns grappling with Burns on the floor of the courthouse foyer.
Ms Nikolic said Burns had bitten Sgt Manns, prompting a compulsory test which showed Burns was hepatitis C positive.
That led to months of anguish for Sgt Manns and her family while she endured a series of tests, all of which were clear, Ms Nikolic said. "Obviously the event was extremely stressful for her, with the potential of a disease being contracted,” she said.
Judge Glen Cash noted Burns' rehabilitation efforts and sentenced her to two years, with parole after six months. "If you take drugs you will be back in jail,” he said.