Northern Ireland news

Woman who attacked hospital staff after racially abusing neighbour is jailed for seven months

Laganside Court in Belfast

A WOMAN who punched a nurse and kicked a doctor after racially abusing her neighbour has been jailed for seven months.

Mary O'Neill (62) also harangued Asian patients being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Prosecutors said she told police that when she drinks she becomes "evil".

O'Neill, of The Milewater at North Queen Street in the city, was convicted of two counts of common assault, disorderly behaviour and breaching an injunction against harassment.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard she called at a neighbour's home on June 11 and hurled abuse at her.

"She called her a foreign b******, telling her to get out of Ireland," a Crown lawyer said.

O'Neill had been prohibited from contacting the woman due to previous encounters.

But according to the prosecution she defied the court order, targeting a victim who is now seeking to be relocated.

The defendant was taken to hospital in a drunken state, but launched a further tirade against others present.

"In particular she was shouting abuse at Asian patients," the prosecutor said.

A female doctor tried to get O'Neill to calm down, but she grabbed the medic's stethoscope and kicked her.

Members of the public had to intervene to pull her away from the doctor.

O'Neill then turned on a nurse who was attempting to treat her.

"She again became abusive, calling her a 'bleached blonde wh*** bag' before punching her to the stomach and winding her," the lawyer continued.

O'Neill was escorted out of hospital by security staff, and arrested later that day at her home.

As police were leading her away she shouted at other residents, calling them "nosey b*******", the court heard.

O'Neill, who has 288 previous convictions, claimed to have little memory of events at the hospital, but accepted it was her on the CCTV footage.

The prosecutor added: "She said her actions were simply because of how much drink she takes, she said she becomes evil and expressed remorse."

Defence barrister Conn O'Neill insisted his client's regret was genuine.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall held that the assaults aggravated by involving attacks on hospital staff.

She also described the breach of the injunction as a racially-motivated hate crime.

Imposing seven months custody, Judge Bagnall pointed out: "There's something of a Jekyll and Hyde about Mrs O'Neill, when she has drink she turns into a completely different person."

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