Northern Ireland news

Woman who threw hot tea over a café employee avoids jail

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard that the woman had previously been barred from another shop

A 58-year-old woman has avoided prison for throwing a cup of hot tea over a member of staff at a coffee shop.

Roisin Hamill was told she could have been jailed for her "appalling" reaction to being denied entry to the outlet in south Belfast.

But a judge instead imposed 18 months probation due to her physical and mental health problems.

Hamill, with an address at University Street in the city, was convicted of common assault, disorderly behaviour and assaulting a police designated person.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard she had previously been barred from another shop on Botanic Avenue.

Prosecutors said a staff member at a nearby branch of Caffe Nero prevented her from entering on July 30 this year.

Hamill responded by throwing a cup containing hot tea over the woman.

When police arrived she became irate and ignored warnings to stop swearing.

Hamill was then arrested and taken into custody, where she kicked a civilian detention officer, a Crown lawyer said.

He added: "She said she just got mad."

District Judge Peter Magill commented: "Throwing a cup of tea around a member of staff is just appalling.

"It's the sort of thing you should be going to jail for."

However, defence barrister Luke Curran described his client as a highly vulnerable woman.

"Anybody in their right mind should go to jail for that," he accepted.

"(But) she is not a person in her right mind."

Ordering Hamill to complete 18 months probation, Mr Magill told her: "This behaviour is utterly unacceptable and you have a frankly appalling record.

"If it was not for the detailed report which sets out physical health issues and, more importantly, mental health issues, I would be sending you to prison."

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Northern Ireland news