Thursday 16 August 2018

Homeless woman slashed stomach of man who came to help her in street

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Jessica Magee

A young homeless woman who gave birth in custody will be sentenced later for slashing the stomach of a man who came to help her in the street.

Donna Dineen (23) inflicted a a 25cm stab wound on a stranger who said he heard her arguing with a man and thought she needed help, a court has heard.

Dineen of Cedar House hostel, Dublin 1, claimed on arrest that she had acted in self-defence after the injured party pulled a knife on her. “If he was there to help, I wouldn't have done that to him,” she told gardaí.

She pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today to assault causing harm at St Benedict's Gardens, North Circular Road on May 8, 2017.

Dineen further admitted producing a knife and robbing the man's wallet on the same occasion.

The court heard the injured man left a trail of blood from Dorset Street up North Circular Road, ending in a pool of blood at St Benedict's Garden from what gardaí described as his “horrific slash wound”.

A co-accused man has also been charged in relation to the offences, but he cannot be named as his case is currently before the courts.

Dineen gave birth to her first child, a son, in March of this year at the Dóchas Centre in Mountjoy Prison.

Carol Doherty BL, defending, asked the court to consider a suspended sentence so Dineen could attend a rehabilitation centre where she would be able to keep her baby with her for a further 18 months.

Under current regulations, a woman who gives birth in custody can only keep the baby with her in prison for 12 months, whereupon the child is released into the care of the HSE.

Judge Melanie Greally responded that this was “simply not an option”, having seen photographs of the wound inflicted by Dineen.

However, the judge remanded Dineen in continuing custody and adjourned sentencing until November to allow for an updated probation report and governor's report.

Dineen has 17 previous convictions for minor offences.

Carol Doherty BL, defending Dineen, said she had written an eloquent letter to court in which she fully accepted her role in the offence and was deeply remorseful.

The court heard Dineen had a tragic background and had been a victim of abuse at the hands of several people all her life which haunts her every day, leading her to remain trapped in a cycle of drink and drug addiction.

Counsel said she was doing very well in custody and wanted to start life afresh with her baby son.

“Motherhood is not easy, but motherhood in custody is an added difficulty,” said Ms Doherty.

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