Mother jailed over nurse assaults

An unemployed mum is behind bars after a vicious attack on two nurses at Townsville University Hospital acute mental health unit.

Two nurses were encouraging Louisa Dawn Joe into the courtyard for a sleep, when they turned around to find her with fists clenched, and ready to attack.

The nurses grabbed at Joe's hands, but she managed to free her hands to punch and scratch them. It was Joe's third attack against a nurse in just four days.

The 29-year-old was charged assault occasioning bodily harm and serious assault of a person over 60.

Joe was admitted to the mental health unit in January 2018.

It is understood she was suffering from psychosis at the time, and struggling with drug and alcohol use.

However, a psychologist report submitted to the court said it was likely Joe was no longer under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the first assault on January 19.

Prosecutor Kellie Mythen said the nurses were just trying to help Joe "in her time of need", which she believed aggravated the assaults.

"She was aware and understood her actions at the time of offending," she said. "She had full accountability for that."

During her time in the unit, Joe told nurses: "I'll get you, you white c---s", kicked a nurse in the groin, hit a nurse on the jaw, attempted to headbutt a nurse, and punched and scratched nurses in three separate incidents from January 19 to 22, 2018.

She pleaded guilty at Townsville Magistrates Court on Tuesday to three separate assaults during her time in the unit.

Joe's defence lawyer said the psychologist's report said the 29-year-old may have still been experiencing hallucinations at the time of the offence, but that Joe accepted responsibility for her actions.

"It is a very unfortunate situation for a woman who has been needing help for quite a significant period of time," Joe's lawyer said.

But ultimately, Magistrate Ross Mack chose to sentence Joe to a 15-month head sentence with a parole release date of June 21, 2020.

She was also convicted on a public nuisance charge from October 2019 and two failures to appear.

Mr Mack criticised the mother's behaviour, and said there had been too many attacks on nurses doing their job.

In the 2018-19 financial year, 907 patients were violent towards Townsville Hospital and Health Service staff.

Mr Mack said nurses were on the frontline and did not deserve this kind of treatment.

"They should not come to work expecting to be subjected to this behaviour," he said.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union Townsville organiser Nicola De Jongh said educating the public that violence against frontline health workers was unacceptable was starting to get through.

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