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Lurgan woman threw plank with nail in it at care staff

"There was quite a lot of allowance made for her mental condition in some of the sentencing but I think we've now passed that point."

Craigavon Court

A Lurgan woman charged with a litany of offences against care workers, including throwing a plank with a nail in it at them, has been sentenced to a year in custody.

Esther McKey, (26), appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court, via videolink, from Hydebank Prison.

She appeared before the court for sentencing on charges relating to three separate incidents last year.

She was charged with three counts of common assault, one count of wasting police time, one count of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place and one count of disorderly behaviour.

The first incident occurred on June 5, when police received a report that the defendant, who lives in care, was standing outside Praxis Care in Lurgan and was being abusive to staff. She was reported to be “shouting and swearing aggressively” and holding a footlong piece of wood with a nail sticking out of it.

Witnesses stated that she became increasingly aggressive and threw the wood at care staff. This did not cause injury but it was believed that she intended to hit staff with it.

McKey was interviewed in relation to the offences and made no admissions, denying the charges.

The second incident occurred on July 16, when police received a report from the defendant alleging that she had been assaulted by a support worker earlier that day. Police arrived and knocked but there was no answer.

They then called the defendant who said she “would be back in two minutes”. Police waited outside for 20 minutes and a further call went to voicemail.

Police later were inf0rmed by the defendant that she was at home. They attended and McKey claimed that a support worker had punched her to the face “for no reason” when he was leaving off her medication.

When she realised that she would have to make a statement and go to court, she declined, claiming that she did not want to get him into trouble.

After further discussion, McKey admitted that the assault did not happen and that she made the report because she was frustrated with her support workers.

The third incident was on July 25, when police received a report from a care worker at Praxis Care stating that she had been assaulted by the defendant. She said she had been with the defendant from 3pm until 9pm and had taken her out to get food shopping and brought her back to the address.

That evening, she made dinner for the defendant and entered the living room to allow her to eat alone. Whilst she was in the living room, the defendant was “aggressive,” saying “get the f*** out of my house” and throwing a butter knife at her, which hit her on the head.

The injured party left the property and the defendant was interviewed at Lurgan police station on September 22 for common assault. During interview, she made admissions to throwing the knife.

David McKeown BL, defending, informed the court that his client had received a 32-month sentence in the Crown Court the previous day for an attempted robbery.

He explained that the defendant suffers from a learning disability and personality disorders, noting that she is a looked-after adult who lives in care, asking the District Judge to be lenient given the circumstances.

District Judge Bernie Kelly said that the court was “running out of road” in relation to sentencing.

“If she continues to behave in this fashion upon her release… I think these have to go on indictment thereafter because she has just a whole host of assaults on her record,” she commented.

“There was quite a lot of allowance made for her mental condition in some of the sentencing but I think we’ve now passed that point.”

Sentencing McKey for the charges at each of the three incidents, District Judge Kelly imposed four months on each set of offences to run consecutively with each other, making a total of 12 months in custody.

This sentence is to run concurrently with her current sentence.

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