‘Slapped on the wrist’

A woman who slapped former councillor Maria Sampey was put on a diversion plan at Dandenong Magistrates' Court. 195748_01

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A shaken ex-Greater Dandenong councillor Maria Sampey has called for sharper punishment for a Noble Park resident who attacked her on the street.

The 63-year-old woman pleaded guilty at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court to assaulting Ms Sampey, who was intervening in a neighbourhood dispute as a councillor in Leman Crescent on 16 June 2019.

The accused was sentenced to a diversion order, effectively a six-month good behaviour bond.

According to a police summary, Ms Sampey, then 70, was slapped “with force” by an open palm smeared with Vicks VapoRub.

At the time, Ms Sampey was responding to a resident’s complaint about the placement of the accused’s garbage bin in front of the property.

When Ms Sampey moved the bin away from the edge of the road, the accused and her daughter came down their driveway “screaming and swearing at the victim”, police stated to the court.

The accused retrieved her bin and smeared Vicks VapoRub on the top of the bin.

“Why are you putting Vicks on your bin?” Ms Sampey asked.

The accused then struck her.

Ms Sampey accused a man of calling her a “whore” and throwing three balls of soil into the back of her head and back.

No charges have been laid against the male.

Before a hearing on 8 April, Ms Sampey wrote to the court requesting a more severe sentence for the “unprovoked and frightening” assault.

The attack had left her shaken and having trouble sleeping, she wrote.

She wrote that she’d approached the accused because they had been harassing a next-door family including telling them to “go back to India”.

The “aggressive and bullying” behaviour continued on a weekly basis.

A Leman Crescent resident told Star Journal that her family took out a two-year intervention order against the accused neighbour.

Over the past five years, the woman had regularly screamed verbal abuse, banged on the fence, played loud music at all hours, spat and flung dirty, smelly water, dead flies and dead birds at their front door.

The woman installed CCTV cameras pointing at the harassed neighbour’s property.

Despite the IVO, the verbal abuse, fence banging and loud music continues. Each time they leave the house, they cop a barrage, the neighbour said.

“We won’t let our children play outside. We just keep them inside.

“My husband says the police did nothing, the court did nothing. We need to move from here.”

According to Ms Sampey, the accused’s household was the subject of “red warning flags” on the council’s data base.

It warned staff to go in pairs if approaching the occupants as “they are extremely aggressive and violent”, Ms Sampey wrote.

“Apparently Council had been having problems of an antisocial nature with this (household) for a few years and I was unaware of this at the time, as this information was not made available to me or other councillors.”

In a police field interview, the woman accused Ms Sampey of hitting her first.

No charges were laid against Ms Sampey, who stated in her police statement that she struck the woman in retaliation.

At Dandenong Magistrates’ Court, the accused was placed on a diversion plan, including a pledge of good behaviour for six months.

She must donate $200 to the court’s charity fund and write an apology to Ms Sampey.

The case was adjourned until 8 October.