Belfast Telegraph

Woman who beat her stroke-victim mother by pressing pillow on her face could be jailed, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A woman who beat her stroke-victim mother by repeatedly pressing a pillow on her face was warned today she could be jailed.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard Catherine Strong subjected the elderly victim to a drunken attack as she lay in bed at their home in the city.

When challenged by care workers who called at the house she was said to have become abusive and repeatedly shouted that her mother was dying.

Strong, 49, of Argyle Street, Belfast, has pleaded guilty to common assault on the pensioner and five subsequent assaults on PSNI officers and designated police representatives.

Ordering full reports before she passes sentence, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said: "If those care workers had not come in goodness knows what might have happened."

A prosecution lawyer told how one of those who called at the home on January 10 had looked into the area where the victim's bed is located.

She saw the pensioner - believed to be in her late seventies - lying on her back with her feet hanging off the edge of the bed onto the floor.

"The defendant was standing over her mother holding a pillow in one hand," the prosecutor said.

"She was repeatedly striking her mother on the face and upper chest with the pillow."

The assault was said to involve pressing the pillow down on the victim's face for up to a second at a time, before lifting it up for the same period of time and then repeating the action.

In total the incident witnessed lasted for less than 30 seconds, the court heard.

It was stressed that the care worker believed Strong was beating her mother, but was not trying to suffocate her.

Strong, who was described as pleasant when sober but abusive when drunk, had been in an emotional state in the previous weeks.

She had repeatedly stated that her mother was dying, Judge Bagnall was told.

During the commotion at the house she also claimed she had been trying to put a pillow behind her mother's back.

In interviews following her arrest she was said to have set out hose she has cared for her mother since she had a stroke 12 years ago.

According to Strong the victim is totally reliant on her.

She denied being an alcoholic, describing herself instead as a binge drinker.

On the day of the incident she had downed a litre and a half of cider, but claimed to be more tired than drunk.

Strong also insisted she had a good relationship with her mother involving the pair joking and messing around, the court heard.

After hearing the details Judge Bagnall stressed the seriousness of the offence against a "vulnerable, elderly lady in care, a member of the family".

Pointing out that immediate custody could be imposed, she warned: "Be under no illusion, I'm taking this as having a fairly sinister set of facts."

A defence lawyer argued that the witness clearly stated she did not believe her client intended to cause serious harm.

But the judge replied: "I wasn't really going to suffocate her isn't good enough. It's still abuse."

Sentencing was adjourned for four weeks.

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