Sunday 28 December 2014

Woman with 460 convictions jailed for pulling clumps from head of female garda

Andrew Phelan

Published 02/07/2014 | 16:03

Courts of Criminal Justice

A REPEAT offender with 460 prior convictions has been jailed for pulling clumps of hair out of the head of a female garda who went to help her as she lay drunk on a street.

Jennifer Armstrong (38) pulled the officer to the ground by the hair and beat her about the face in the attack, Dublin District Court heard.

Judge Michael Walsh sentenced her to 15 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to assault, as well as a litany of separate public order and theft charges.

Armstrong, of no fixed address, had continually harassed and stolen from the public in Dublin’s main tourist and shopping areas, racking up a total of 460 convictions to date.

It is one of the longest lists of prior offences to come before the court.

Sgt Zita Woods said Garda Eimear Cantwell had been walking on the North Circular Road, wearing a jacket over her uniform at 5.30pm on November 27, 2013. She saw a man helping a drunk woman up off the pavement.

The garda identified herself and tried to assist but Armstrong became abusive and grabbed her by the hair, pulling her to the ground.

She also punched her several times to the right side of the face. Garda Cantwell was treated in hospital for bruising to the face and was unfit for duty and out of work for a week. The accused had pulled “clumps of hair from her head,” Sgt Woods said.

In a separate incident at Temple Bar Square on March 27 last, Armstrong was arrested for public drunkenness after gardai saw her drinking from cans, “hassling” members of the public, shouting abuse and making obscene gestures.

The court heard the majority of her prior convictions were for public order offences or theft. She also had convictions for assault and had been put on a peace bond as recently as May this year.

The accused had been previously addicted to heroin and cocaine and though she “miraculously” managed to get off both drugs, she developed an alcohol problem. This had been the “bane of her life ever since,” her solicitor Jenny McGeever said.

She apologised for the assault.

“I do apologise to the lady,” Armstrong told the court.

Previously, a barrister representing the defendant said she had begun taking crack cocaine at the ago of 17 which led to a “tragic life.” She had been in and out of custody for most of her adult life, he said.

Judge Walsh noted that the accused’s history of criminal behaviour appeared to be primarily linked to alcohol abuse.

He imposed a series of consecutive sentences totalling 15 months.

Irish Independent

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