A WOMAN who attacked a waitress who had earlier let her use the toilets in the restaurant she worked in has been given a suspended sentence after she admitted pulling the victim's hair so hard some of it fell out.
Dundalk Circuit Court heard how Kathryn McKeown (35), who is originally from London but has an address at Dundalk Simon Community, had earlier on June 24 2011 gone into a restaurant in Park Street and asked a waitress to use the toilet. After she had finished, McKeown left the cafe.
But as the waitress walked home through Roden Place later that evening, she was confronted by McKeown who demanded money before she tried to bite the victim. The waitress tussled with her and McKeown grabbed her hair as the defendant fell to the ground. McKeown was holding the hair so hard that some of it came away from the scalp.
The waitress managed to escape and a passer-by called the gardaí. The victim recognised McKeown and she was arrested a short time later but they couldn't interview her straight away because of the drink and drugs she had consumed.
Barrister Donough McDonough told the court that his client had been born and raised in England and had suffered trauma in her childhood. Her life has been punctuated by drink and drug abuse.
The court was also told that McKeown has two children, who are in care in England, and 'drugs and alcohol continue to be a feature in her lifestyle'.
Judge Michael O'Shea said it was 'very concerning that a person walking home from work would have the horror of being assaulted'.
He said: 'People must feel safe and must be entitled to walk the streets of Dundalk...it is one of the basic parts of our freedom that you can walk unrestricted and not be confronted'.
He said the assault on the waitress was 'nasty and vicious' and the probation report showed that she had 'failed to display any level of victim concern or empathy'. The report also said she was 'not motivated for (drug) treatment at this time'.
The judge added that, despite that fact, she has 'still managed to stay under the garda radar since this incident'.
He imposed a two-year sentence for assault but suspended it for two years on condition that McKeown continues to reside with the Simon Community and 'does everything possible in drugs treatment'.
Judge O'Shea told McKeown: 'It's a matter for you to stay out of jail'.