Monday 26 August 2019

Woman kicked prison officer in stomach while refusing to return to cell after 'hearing dead child in the walls', court hears

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Brion Hoban

A woman kicked a prison officer in the stomach while refusing to return to the cell where she thought she had “heard her dead child in the walls”, a court has heard.

Michelle McCullough (40) of Regina Coeli Hostel, Morning Star Avenue, Dublin, pleaded guilty to assault at Dóchas Centre, North Circular Road, Dublin, on July 25, 2015.

She was sentenced to four and a half months’ imprisonment today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Detective Garda Barry Brennan told Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question the accused was an inmate in the prison. She received medicine in the morning and then refused to go back to her cell while walking through the prison yard.

McCullough became agitated and prison officers made the decision to use force. She pulled the hair of a female prison officer who was attempting to grab her leg and kicked her in the stomach.

Det Gda Brennan said the prison officer found it hard to breathe after the assault and did not work for approximately eight weeks. She has since made a full recovery.

McCullough has 177 previous convictions, the majority of which are for theft. She also has five previous convictions for assault.

Det Gda Brennan agreed with Leo Mulrooney BL, defending, that McCullough had been grabbed from behind and that this was not normal procedure.

Mr Mulrooney said his client had a daughter as a teenager who died at the age of three. He said McCullough spent 18 months in a psychiatric unit following the death of her child.

He said his client did not want to return to her cell as the previous night she had “heard her dead child in the walls of the cell”. He said McCullough had a history of drug addiction, but had been free of heroin for some time.

Judge Karen O'Connor said the case was aggravated by the assault being on prison officer acting in her ordinary course of employment and the impact the assault had on victim. She said the mitigating factors were the plea of guilty and the accused's tragic background.

Judge O'Connor sentenced McCullough to four and a half months’ imprisonment.

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