Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Alcoholic ex-teacher who almost killed son in drunken row caged after failing to get help

Teresa Doherty
Teresa Doherty

A former teacher at a top grammar school who injured her son in a drunken row has been returned to custody after failing to abide by her probation terms.

Chronic alcoholic Treasa Doherty (52) hit her son on the head with a vase, critically injuring him at the home they shared in Londonderry in February last year.

The blow was delivered with such force he suffered a fractured skull.

The 23-year-old spent nine days in intensive care on a life-support machine following the assault, but has since fully recovered.

He was in court to support his mother yesterday.

Originally charged with attempted murder, Doherty, from the Carnhill area of Derry, received a three-year probation order for assault last January.

The order included terms to seek treatment for her problems with alcohol.

Her trial was told her son Sean O'Connor, her only child, also had alcohol difficulties and was almost five times over the legal driving limit for alcohol in his blood at the time of the attack. He made no statement of complaint against his mother.

Her solicitor said it was accepted by the prosecution and defence that "what happened here arose out of a fall-out between two people who have unfortunately developed a problem with alcohol".

Judge Piers Grant said at the time it was obvious Doherty had been an alcoholic for a prolonged period of time.

He ordered her to enlist in and complete an alcohol-awareness programme while on probation, and warned if she "fell off the wagon just once" she would be jailed immediately.

Yesterday, Judge Grant told the former head of languages at prestigious St Columb's College in Derry that she faced a significant jail sentence if she didn't "dry out and stay off alcohol for a prolonged period of time".

Under the terms of her probation order Doherty had to engage in alcohol rehabilitation and awareness counselling programmes.

However, Judge Grant said the Probation Service wanted the order revoked because she had consistently failed to keep appointments with it.

He said she had been given numerous opportunities to engage in the counselling programmes but had failed to do so.

Judge Grant adjourned sentencing until August 6 and remanded Doherty in custody until then.

He warned her that if she failed to co-operate with the prison authorities in terms of her alcoholism, she would receive what he called "a significant custodial sentence" on that date.

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