Prison for woman who wielded syringe with "blood in it"

A HEPATITIS C positive woman who held up another woman in the toilets of the Redbank Plaza cinemas last year has been sentenced to eight years prison.

Maree Sharelle Leighton, 43, yesterday pleaded guilty at the Ipswich District Court to attempted robbery, enter premises with intent to commit an indictable offence, assault occasioning bodily harm, possessing drug utensils, receiving tainted property, to counts of stealing and three counts of robbery with actual violence.

The court heard Leighton's attack on the woman in the cinema toilets was the last in a string of robberies and attempted robberies she had conducted with syringes, believed to be filled with blood.

On May 14, 2012, Leighton, who has served a period of jail for holding up taxi drivers with syringes, and another woman held up a lawyer in an elevator in Post Office Square in the Brisbane city.

In the lift they pulled out syringes and told the woman they had AIDS and would stab her if she didn't give them money, and threatened to hurt her children if she called the police.

Three days later Leighton followed a 59-year-old female medical doctor to her car in Roma St in central Brisbane. She pulled out a needle the doctor believed was filled with blood and threatened her. "Give me your money, I'm Hep C positive and have a needle with blood in it," the court heard Leighton said.

A struggle between the two ensued at the end of which the doctor noticed her hand had been scratched by the needle. She had blood tests which came back negative for Hepatitis C.

Two days following the attack at Roma St, Leighton snatched $200 from a 75-year-old woman with a walking stick at an ATM. When the woman protested Leighton pulled out a syringe and threatened her.

Later that same day at the toilet of the Reading Cinemas in Redbank Plaza, Leighton stuck a needle in the shoulder blade of a woman washing her hands.

She took the woman's handbag and told her not to leave for five minutes. The woman left the toilets as soon as Leighton was gone and found her husband, who tracked down and stopped Leighton. She was arrested by police following the Redbank attack.

Judge Greg Koppenol said Leighton's actions were "despicable" and "protracted" attacks.

"The (victims) were vulnerable woman, away from the general public," he said.

Leighton was sentenced to eight years prison, and will be eligible for parole after serving two years behind bars.

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