IN COURT: Zane Scells was jailed for spitting on police.
IN COURT: Zane Scells was jailed for spitting on police.

Father-of-nine who spat on police had history of violence

A FATHER-OF-NINE found guilty of spitting on a police officer, resisting arrest and trying to bite a hospital security guard, had a history of convictions for violent offences.

Yesterday Zane Stuart Vinton Scells was sentenced after a jury found the 36-year-old guilty of four out of five counts - three of serious assault and one of common assault - stemming from an altercation out the front of the Melbourne hotel on Australia Day last year.

During sentencing yesterday crown prosecutor Chris Cook detailed a road rage incident in 2000 that saw Scells throw an axe handle through a car window.

He also told the court Scells had assaulted his brother in 2010 over an argument about alcohol where Scells grabbed his brother from behind, smashed his head into a wall and repeatedly kicked and punched him.

The court also heard in 2016 Scells obstructed a police officer, an offence that Mr Cook said showed a "history of belligerent behaviour towards police".

But during sentencing defence barrister Jacob Robson submitted that it was unclear from the guilty verdicts whether the jury convicted Scells on the basis that the spitting was intentional towards police or just that a reasonable person should have known a police officer was there.

He submitted that Judge Brendan Butler take a favourable view of his client's evidence.

But Judge Butler ruled in light of the verdicts he should give more weight to the evidence from the crown's case.

"I prefer the evidence of prosecution witnesses specifically about his behaviour as being agitated and acting aggressively and dismissively towards police," he said.

"He was aware that it was a police officer beside him in the ambulance.

"The spit ... was directed towards the police officer with the intent that it hit him."

In handing down a sentence Judge Butler also took into consideration that Scells suffered post traumatic stress disorder and had suffered an abusive and violent childhood.

He also noted Scells had started seeing a psychologist since the incident and was starting to address the issues that plagued him.

But he described Scells actions on the night of January 26 last year as "deliberately abusive towards police".

Scells will have to serve four months of a 12 month head sentence before being released on parole.

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