Paramedic’s nightmare over ‘deplorable act’


KURANDA paramedic Daniel Roberts still relives the night he was partially blinded by the "scumbag" he had tried to help.

Mr Roberts had searched the streets for William Wallace Barnes, then 21, after responding to a triple-0 call from the man's sister in December 2016.

Barnes had been knocked out by a spear tackle, was likely concussed and wandering about at night.

When he finally found Barnes, the paramedic took pains to show that he was not a police officer and was there only to tend to his injury.

For his troubles Barnes spat in Mr Robert's face with enough force to temporarily blind him.

"He delivered enough saliva that I could taste what he had drunk, with enough force that I lost sight in one eye," Mr Roberts told Cairns District Court.

"I have suffered the indignity and suffering of this disgusting act."

William Wallace Barnes
William Wallace Barnes

He told the court he suffered depression after the assault, had swung from "inconsolable misery and white hot anger," and was "less inclined to approach patients on my own, waiting for back-up to arrive."

Mr Roberts spent nine months undergoing tests for diseases after the assault.

In his parting words to the court, he called Barnes, who pleaded guilty to serious assault, a "scumbag."

Brydie Bilic, defending, said her client had not yet apologised to the paramedic for his "deplorable act."

"Kuranda is a small community; word was received by my client's family that Mr Roberts was particularly angry.. any letter of apology would be seen to be insulting," Ms Bilic said.

Judge Dean Morzone said the court was "no place" for Mr Roberts' fiery victim impact statement.

"There are mechanisms that could have spared Mr Roberts' desperation ... by talking to the prosecution," Judge Morzone said.

"This is not a system where people are supposed to fend for themselves; we now have a very damaged paramedic officer.

"They are putting themselves on the line in the service of the community," Judge Morzone said.

He noted that in the nearly three years since the assault, Barnes had not committed an offence.

Mr Roberts sighed in frustration as Barnes was sentenced to 12 months in jail to be served as an intensive community order, and ordered to pay $2000 in compensation.