A homeless man who assaulted a hospital worker has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
A homeless man who assaulted a hospital worker has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Coathanger used in attack on hospital worker

A HOMELESS man who attacked a hospital worker and got belted with a motorcycle helmet in return has received a six month suspended sentence.

In recently published sentencing remarks from a March 10 Toowoomba District Court sitting, Judge Dennis Lynch QC described the events that led to John William Vote, 44, assaulting another man.

Vote pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm whilst armed and in company, a charge that stemmed from an incident on March 12, 2019.

Judge Lynch said Vote had asked a hospital worker for a cigarette, and the worker refused, Vote's partner, who was nearby, began attacking the man with a coathanger.

"That was not a very smart idea because he was holding a motorcycle helmet, and he struck her with the helmet," Judge Lynch remarked, adding that: "It seems to me he was quite entitled to do exactly what he did".

Vote then intervened and punched the hospital worker, and the man retaliated against Vote as well.

"It would seem to me from the description of events that the pair of you really got what you deserved, in light of your conduct towards the complainant," Judge Lynch said.

A third party intervened and separated Vote, his partner, and the man they had assaulted.

The man suffered some abrasions and superficial lacerations over his face, and abrasions behind his ears, as well as a sprained knee, abrasions to his knees, a sprained right hand, irritation of the eye, and a sprained jaw, the court heard.

Judge Lynch said Vote had made admissions to police about being involved, "although you perhaps were not completely frank with them, and, importantly, you have entered an early plea of guilty".

He said Vote had suffered depression and spiralled into drug use as a result of the death of his two infant children.

"Your partner is someone with mental health issues, and you are her full-time carer," he noted.

Judge Lynch said at the time of the offence, both Vote and his partner were homeless and he was on parole at the time.

Being charged saw his parole revoked, and he spent two months in jail, the court heard.

"Since being in custody, you seem to have done well," Judge Lynch said.

With regard to Vote's criminal history, Judge Lynch said there were a number of entries, including for drug offences, but that he was prepared to accept Vote's attack was "out of character to attack someone like this".


"And, to some degree, it seems that the pair of you got your just desserts at the hands of this complainant."

For the offence, Judge Lynch sentenced Vote to six months imprisonment, suspended for a period of 12 months.

"It is up to you to do the right thing. Stay away from using drugs, and you are a good chance of staying out of jail," Judge Lynch explained to Vote, who remarked: "Nice".

"But if you revert to committing violence on someone in the street, you know where you will end up. All right?" he asked.

"Thank you sir," Vote responded.

"Good luck," Judge Lynch said.