Gladstone man tries to plead guilty without admitting to crime

Gladstone Court House, Yarroon Street.Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer
Gladstone Court House, Yarroon Street.Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer Brenda Strong GLA281013CORT

IT'S a lesson anyone going before a court should keep in mind - before pleading guilty you should know exactly what it is you plan to admit to.

Troy Geoffrey Leitch appeared in Gladstone Magistrates Court on Friday, facing 15 charges, including committing public nuisance and assaulting or obstructing police, as well as two charges of seriously assaulting a police officer.

Appearing via video link from inside Capricornia Correctional Centre, Mr Leitch appeared frustrated throughout what was originally supposed to be a sentencing hearing, as it descended into legal back-and-forth between the magistrate and the lawyers at the bench.

The hearing unravelled as Magistrate Melanie Ho read through the charges against Mr Leitch in order to hear how he would plead.

Mr Leitch was charged with seriously assaulting a police officer during the execution of that officer's duty on January 24 at Calliope by spitting saliva and blood on her.

When asked for his plea, he replied: "Um, guilty... I didn't spit though."

Fully aware this was anything but a casual aside, Ms Ho halted proceedings and asked Mr Leitch's defence lawyer to clarify what his client had meant.

But before lawyer Jun Pepito could intervene, Mr Leitch continued.

"Just blood came off me ... I had a wound under my eye, and blood sprayed from my eye on to her face," he said.

"I didn't actually spit."

Ms Ho refused to go further and told him she was not prepared to accept a plea that he did not appear to have thought through.

"It's a very serious offence, sir, that carries (a potential) 14 years imprisonment," she explained, pointing out there was also a second serious assault charge and an officer had had to wait six months for a disease test order.

Mr Leitch replied he was told if he pleaded guilty to everything except the spitting he would be sentenced to time served, with the possibility of bail for the remaining charge.

"I thought all of this was sorted out and that's why we were here today," he said.

"It's been six months."

"That's not my issue ... you've had two legal representatives," Ms Ho replied.

The case was adjourned to November 13.

Topics:  assault crime gladstonecourt magistrate melanie ho police spitting

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