A brute who bashed a female paramedic who tried to help him has avoided jail again after a judge ruled the community was better served by releasing the ‘maniac’.
James Haberfield, 22, believed if he took enough drugs he could ‘reach another dimension’.
He had been high on LSD, amphetamines, ecstasy and ketamine when he assaulted the paramedic.
Under Victorian laws introduced last year, the thug faced a ‘near’ mandatory six month prison sentence for attacking paramedic Monica Woods.
Paramedic Monica Woods leaves the County Court of Victoria on Monday. She said she was ‘disappointed’ her abuser was released
James Haberfield, 22, believed if he took enough drugs he could ‘reach another dimension’.
But in August, Haberfield became the first person under the laws to be slapped with a compulsory treatment order after Magistrate Simon Zebrowski found he met ‘special reasons’ for avoiding the otherwise unavoidable.
Mr Zebrowski had deemed jail would be too tough on the weedy woman basher.
He also accepted Haberfield had an ‘impaired mental state’ that had more to do with a pre-existing autism spectrum disorder and major depressive disorder than the drug cocktail he’d consumed.
The decision was appealed by prosecutors, but on Monday County Court of Victoria Judge Michael Tinney followed the magistrate’s lead and cut Haberfield loose.
It took the judge more than two hours to explain his reasons before a court packed with paramedics – including Ms Woods.
Outside court, Ms Woods said she was disappointed by the result.
‘It’s continued to have devastating impacts on my life. I loved working on the road as a paramedic and helping the community,’ she said.
Ms Woods said she had not been able to work full-time since she was assaulted.
‘I am still having twice weekly treatment on my injuries and have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety,’ she said.
‘Violence against anyone is unacceptable. Violence against paramedics, other emergency workers and other health professionals is never okay.’
Judge Tinney sentenced Haberfield to the very same 18-month order he was already serving, albeit with an additional four months on top.
He also slapped him with a community corrections order for the same period, but ordered he not need perform any community work for his crimes.
‘Unpaid work is just not a sensible condition for you given (your) high need of treatment,’ he said.
In a double-slap in the face to his victim, Haberfield’s barrister David Hallows, SC attempted to have the prosecution cover his legal costs, but it was rejected by the judge.
Haberfield had punched Monica Woods in the face after consuming ‘a cornucopia’ of drugs at Victoria’s Rainbow Serpent festival in January.
He was still out of control when he got home, hiding in a dog kennel as his frantic parents called for help.
James Haberfield leaves court with his barrister David Hallows, SC. Mr Hallows tried to get the state to pay for his expenses after his client was cut loose
Paramedic Monica Woods leaves the County Court of Victoria on Monday after hearing her attacker believed he could ‘reach another dimension’ by taking drugs
Thug James Haberfield believes drugs can evolve’ him to reach another dimension. The court heard he watched and read literature about the strange sub-culture. Some believe drugs can ‘extract them from The Matrix’ – a popular movie featuring Keunu Reeves (centre) who escaped a video game life by taking a pill
Paramedic’s victim impact statement
‘The physical and psychological injuries I have suffered from this assault are both extremely debilitating and overwhelming’
‘I stood up again and he grabbed me around the throat, neck and head and placed me in a headlock, and punched my face. I attempted to get out of the headlock fearing for my life, and I felt in danger. ‘
‘When I saw my reflection in mirrors and windows , I was constantly reminded of the assault as a physical injury, with bruising and discolouration being visible for weeks post assault.’
‘I experience recurring thoughts of the incident, playing over and over in my mind, which often become so overwhelming, resulting in significant anxiety, panic attacks and feeling like I’m going to vomit.’
‘My sense of independence has been taken away from me. I have always been secure and independent, being able to provide for myself, pay off my own mortgage on my own and work extremely hard to (be) where I am today.’
‘There is ongoing uncertainty, especially as to whether my injuries are permanent in nature, and quite importantly, whether I will be able to return to my original duties as a paramedic prior to the assault.’
In appealing the decision, the County Court of Victoria heard Haberfeld had believed if he got wasted enough he could ‘reach the next level of evolution’.
He avoided jail after a psychiatrist who had previously assessed him made an 11th-hour assessment that he believed Haberfield’s attack was due to an unknown pre-existing mental illness.
Under the mandatory sentencing laws, a judge can release an offender if its determined they had impaired mental function or displayed other exceptional circumstances.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr Andrew Carroll told the court he believed Haberfield was an undiagnosed psychopathic schizophrenic before he attacked the paramedic.
He said Haberfield had been delving into the subculture of ‘DMT’ when he went on his drug-fueled bender at the ‘dance’ festival.
Dr Carroll said the subculture saw its followers take drugs in order to ‘reach the next level of evolution’.
Experts on the so-called ‘Spirit Module’ – referred to by Dr Carroll as the ‘God Module’ – claim Dimethyltryptamine can bring on out of body or near death experiences, intense hallucinations and even apparent alien abductions.
Website World of Lucid Dreaming described DMT as a naturally occurring ‘tryptamine’, which are a group of substances found in nature that mimic the chemical structure of serotonin.
Although many believe the chemical acts as a kind of molecular code that allows people to ‘exit our simulated universe’ – similar to the hit movie ‘The Matrix’.
Dr Carroll said Haberfield wanted to take more drugs to explore the possibilities.
‘There is more to life than what we know,’ he said of Haberfield’s belief.
Coward: James Haberfield leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Melbourne in August after he avoided what should have been a mandatory sentence for bashing a paramedic
Paramedic Monica Woods (centre) was flanked by colleagues as she left court on Monday in Melbourne. A large group of paramedics have attended each court hearing
Mr Hallows further argued Haberfeld should avoid jail because his autism and mental illness would make his time in jail more onerous.
Judge Tinney took both submissions hook, line and sinker.
In a long-winded and self-serving sentence, the judge described Haberfield as an otherwise ‘shy, quiet, gentle, caring and community-minded’ person who ‘behaved like a maniac’ on the night in question.
Judge Tinney described his behaviour as ‘madness’.
‘You were not yourself … disconnected from the real world.’
In coming to his controversial decision, Judge Tinney took a swipe at Haberfield’s critics – particularly at reports describing the coward as a coward.
‘It’s just a nonsense,’ he said. ‘You felt you were under threat.’
Judge Tinney said the negative publicity had taken a toll on the offender which had impacted on his employment and led to feelings of unpleasantness.
He further condemned ‘vile online abuse’ against the woman basher.
Judge Tinney accepted jail would be difficult for Haberfield and would likely ‘damage’ him.
At a hearing last month, Ms Woods took to the witness box to deliver a heart breaking victim impact statement.
It was second time she had been forced to re-live her nightmare after previously appearing in the magistrates’ court where her attacker avoided justice.
The paramedic of nine-and-a-half years told Judge Tinney she was ‘constantly feeling choked’ and suffered ongoing ‘distressing flashbacks’.
‘I have lost all of my independence due to this assault,’ she wept.
Ms Woods said she feared for her life during the attack and continued to re-live it day after day.
James Haberfield (pictured) assaulted a female paramedic after consuming ‘a cornucopia’ of drugs at Victoria’s Rainbow Serpent festival in January
The court heard Haberfield went missing in an ‘acutely psychotic state’ after the four-day alternative music and arts festival, during which he’d consumed ‘a cocktail of drugs’.
The university student knocked on the door of a Coburg home, walking inside and terrifying the residents, who were unknown to him.
When the ambulance arrived to collect him, Haberfield punched Ms Woods in the face and put her in a headlock, squeezed and pinned her to the rear corner of the ambulance.
Fellow paramedic Sam Smith avoided Haberfield’s punches, pressed the vehicle’s duress button and sedated the youth.
Haberfield stayed in hospital for more than a week receiving treatment.
Ms Woods suffered whiplash to her head and neck, a hematoma and swelling to her cheek, as well as her psychological trauma.
The incident disgusted the community, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews calling on the Director of Public Prosecutions to urgently consider appealing the sentence.
‘Our thoughts are with the victims of this completely unacceptable attack,’ he said in a statement.
Ms Woods said she is deeply disappointed in the result and claims the ‘catastrophic affects’ Mr Haberfield had on the paramedics went unnoticed
Prosecutors appealed the sentence on September 17, arguing Mr Zebrowski had got his sentence wrong.
Judge Tinney repeated again and again the burden he was under at coming to terms with the laws he had to navigate.
He acknowledged his decision to release Haberfield might not be well received by the general public.
‘Sometimes you have to do things that are unpopular, but we do them because they are the right thing,’ he said.
Judge Tinney accepted Ms Woods ‘may’ feel abandoned by the court for not jailing her abuser.
‘It’s not my job to make an example of the first person (to be sentenced under the new laws),’ he said.
‘A prison sentence may well be disastrous for you … and the community more broadly,’ he told Haberfield.
Judge Tinney said he classified his sentence as ‘appropriate’.