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Woman with at least 60 convictions shouted abuse at police during hostel call-out

'It's all unemployment, drink, drugs and fights in the street'

Linen Court Hostel

A Co Armagh woman has been given a chance to get out of “unemployment, drink, drugs and fights on the street” as a judge deferred passing sentence for disorderly behaviour.

Laura McShane, of Blackquarter Road, Mowhan pleaded guilty to the offence at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

The court heard the defendant was sentenced to a probation order in June of this year for a separate offence.

This incident occurred on March 31, after police were called to a Simon Community Hostel at Linenhall Street, Armagh, over concerns to the welfare of a dog in the 20-year-old’s care.

At around 6.15pm officers arrived to find the defendant at the door of the hostel with a light brown pitbull-type dog.

She was escorted by police into the foyer of the hostel where they noted McShane was unsteady on her feet, smelt strongly of alcohol and had slurred speech.

The defendant then became agitated and started shouting at the officers.

Another male also became aggressive and confrontational towards police, the court was told.

McShane then left the property but was followed by officers, with one having to step on the dog’s lead to prevent it running on to the road.

At this point, the defendant told the officer to “get off her you are f****** hurting her”.

McShane returned to the hostel where she began shouting loudly and swearing at police.

A warning was issued but the defendant continued to be confrontational and aggressive, telling them “don’t put your f****** hands near me”.

Another warning was given but not heeded before McShane was reported for disorderly behaviour.

The court was informed that the defendant was now living with her adoptive parents and was “coping better”.

Defence barrister Stephen Campbell said McShane had “a difficult beginning to life”, suffering from an alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder.

He claimed this had left her prefrontal cortex, which helps in planning and controlling impulsivity, underdeveloped.

Court heard McShane had a sentence deferred for nine months at Belfast Magistrates’ Court earlier this month for indecent behaviour.

When asked what this had entailed Mr Campbell commented it had been “with regards to urination in public during the early hours of the morning”.

District Judge Paul Copeland commented: “You have a suspended sentence live for the next two years and you are working with probation.

“And here we are again – your 60th conviction to date, at least.”

Speaking from the dock McShane put her behaviour down to “the crowd of people” she had been engaging with, but with whom she no longer spends time with.

When District Judge Copeland was made aware the defendant could not remember the last time she was employed, he said: “It’s all unemployment, drink, drugs and fights in the street.”

A support worker who was present told the court she had worked with McShane since she was 16 and had seen a great change in the last few weeks.

District Judge Copeland added: “I am going to defer this sentence”, and added: “You have a lot of support and assistance – do not throw that back in their faces.”

The case will return on May 14 next year for sentencing.

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