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Schwarten spitter jailed

Robert Schwarten
Robert Schwarten

MANY people don't like politicians, but that doesn't mean you can spit on them.

Michael Douglas Colless made that mistake when he spat in the face of Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten earlier this year.

Magistrate Barry Cosgrove condemned the act, saying "an attack on a member of parliament is an attack on the people," and sentenced Colless to three months imprisonment.

The incident, which Mr Schwarten said was the "last straw" in helping him decide to retire from politics, occurred in Rockhampton on January 11.

Mr Schwarten passed Colless in the East Street Mall when the 43-year-old started to abuse him and adopted a fighting stance.

"He used offensive language to me about police and myself and a variety of issues," Mr Schwarten said.

Mr Schwarten told Colless, "you hit me and I'll set you on your arse", before Colless ran away still yelling abuse.

Mr Schwarten made a complaint to police. About 30 minutes later, he spotted Colless as he was driving across the Fitzroy Bridge.

He phoned police to notify them where Colless was, and pulled over to wait for police.

Colless reportedly approached the car and continued shouting abuse before leaning through the window and spitting on the local member's face.

"It's the most vile thing that's ever happened to me," Mr Schwarten said.

"It caused me enough concern to ultimately get blood tests."

Colless then picked up a sign from the ground nearby and began swinging it towards the car.

When Mr Schwarten got out of the car, Colless ran away.

Colless represented himself at his trial in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday but his cross examination of Mr Schwarten ended quickly after he made obscene gestures and called the MP a "filthy old alcoholic".

Magistrate Barry Cosgrove found Colless guilty of public nuisance, threatening violence and common assault.

Magistrate Cosgrove noted that spitting on a police officer was considered a more serious crime but that "parliament hasn't seen fit to impose the same consideration on its members".

Magistrate Cosgrove noted that Colless had already spent 52 days in custody and set a parole release date of November 9.

Topics:  court jail politician spitting


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