Belfast Telegraph

Belfast mum who attacked nurse, patient and police avoids jail

Karen Cousins appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Monday
Karen Cousins appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Monday

By Alan Erwin

A mother of four who attacked a nurse, poked a patient in the eye and bit into a police officer's arm has avoided immediate imprisonment by "a hair's breadth".

Sentencing of Karen Cousins was deferred for four months after a judge was told she is due to get married and go on honeymoon later this week.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard the 44-year-old, of Castlereagh Parade in the city, became violent at the Mater Hospital on March 15 this year.

Stephanie Boyd, prosecuting, said Cousins slapped a male patient in the face, with her finger going into the corner of his eye.

She also screamed at a nurse, leaving him afraid he was about to be assaulted.

Cousins then kicked out at and tried to head-butt a policeman called to the scene, the court heard.

She admitted two common assaults, assault on police and resisting arrest.

In a separate incident on May 18 she targeted another officer responding to disturbances at a house on Global Crescent, east Belfast.

The court was told Cousins was verbally abusive towards the policeman and then scratched at his face as he tried to detain her.

Mrs Boyd added: "She bit his arm and drew blood."

The injured officer required a tetanus injection and antibiotics for his injury.

Cousins was convicted of assault occasioning actual body harm, disorderly behaviour and threats to kill over that incident.

Defence lawyer Ciaran Toner said his client's behaviour was due to alcoholism and a personality disorder.

He detailed Cousins' troubled past and drinking relapses as part of an explanation for her "erratic" behaviour. 

Urging District Judge Fiona Bagnall not to send the defendant to prison now, Mr Toner revealed her imminent wedding plans.

"She is due to be married on Friday at City Hall, and then heading off for two weeks honeymoon to Spain," he said.

Mrs Bagnall described the offences committed in the hospital as "horrendous".

She said: "With nursing staff and patients, it take you into custody territory immediately when you hear the facts of this case."

However, sentencing was deferred until October to give Cousins a chance to access addiction services.

The judge warned: "She must understand that she is within a hair's breadth of custody."

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