A YOUNG woman who bit a nurse has been sentenced to 12 months jail - her case coming up in court just days after tough new penalties for assaulting health workers were announced.
Tijana Leigh Andrews, 17, was not sentenced under the new laws, which double the maximum sentence to 14 years, but she still ended up with a headache in court after she head-butted a window as she was sentenced.
Andrews pleaded guilty in the Gladstone Magistrates Court on Monday for taking a 2cm bite out of the stomach of a Gladstone Base Hospital nurse on September 14.
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Magistrate Penelope Hay intimated to the court she thought spitting would have been a more serious offence.
"The analogy between biting and spitting is that spitting is premeditated and biting is not," she told the court.
"There are no facts to suggest it was a premeditated or degrading act."
Police prosecutor Mick O'Rourke told the court Andrews roused from sedation and struggled with the victim.
"The defendant fell to the floor and the victim went to help her get up when the defendant bit the victim on the left side of the stomach," he told the court.
"The victim pulled the defendant's hair back so she would not bite down but the defendant clenched down and made a 2cm hole in the skin of the victim."
Defence lawyer Bill McMillan told the court Andrews had given up drugs in the past six months but that had been replaced by massive amounts of alcohol.
"That day a cask of wine was involved and she admitted herself to hospital after a massive scar from self-harm started to bleed," he told the court.
"Violence is a key to her background, not just to others but to herself.
"If the defendant faces incarceration she may get some much-needed assistance."
A spokesperson for Gladstone Base Hospital said physical assaults on staff were not a big problem and the number of incidents was decreasing.
Andrews was sentenced to 12 months in prison but is able to apply for bail on January 14.
The new laws were announced on Friday to combat the assaults on health professionals.