Mum, baby punched in Toowoomba shopping centre

A TOOWOOMBA mother called for greater mental health funding after she and her 10-week-old daughter were punched in the head by a man at a grocery shop.

Samantha Ott, 30, had her baby daughter Penelope secured in a nursing swing on her chest and had been finishing a grocery shop when a man approached her from behind, striking her in the face.

The force of the blow knocked her glasses from her face before knocking baby Penelope on the head, causing her pain.

Mrs Ott said she instinctively shielded her daughter from the worst of the blow.

As paramedics checked the pair, Mrs Ott said a carer who had been supervising the man then took him away without commenting on the incident.

"Penelope is okay and I took most of the impact," Mrs Ott said.

"She started crying straight away. I have since pressed charges."

The unprovoked attack was captured on CCTV footage and Toowoomba police confirmed the man was charged with two counts of common assault.

He is due in court in March.

But Mrs Ott called for a review into mental health patient supervision when in the community in an effort to safeguard against further incidents.

Mrs Ott said she had since learned the man alleged to have assaulted her and Penelope had a history of assaulting women, prompting her to question why he was allowed to enter the community.

"I don't want anything out of this other than to feel safe that he won't be allowed out to places like that - heavily populated places - without adequate supervision," she said.

"I feel that he has been let down a little bit by the system as well."

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the man had not been under the care or supervision of State Government-funded health providers at the time of the incident.

Mrs Ott said she supported the rights of mental health patients to be in the community but called for greater supervision and monitoring while in crowded public areas such as shopping centres.

She said facilities such as Baillie Henderson should remain open and funded to ensure ongoing support for clients.

"He should be in 24-hour care," Mrs Ott said.

"I would like to see a lot more care taken and support for mental health.

"Mental health is on the rise and it needs to be supported."


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