Belfast Telegraph

Co Down woman who lashed out at three nurses avoids jail

Suspended sentence: Tania Akhter
Suspended sentence: Tania Akhter

By Paul Higgins

A Co Down woman who assaulted three nurses has narrowly escaped going to jail.

Imposing a three-month jail sentence - but suspending it for three years at Newtownards Magistrates Court - District Judge Mark Hamill told 52-year-old Tania Akhter that normally "when it comes to assaulting nursing staff, the only issue is how long you go to prison for".

However he added that the "only reason" he was suspending the sentence was on the basis of a 12-page report from a consultant psychiatrist which evidenced Akhter's mental health difficulties.

At an earlier hearing Akhter, from the Belfast Road in Bangor, was convicted of three counts of assaulting three female nurses on 28 February this year.

The court heard how Akhter was visiting her daughter at the Ulster Hospital when there was a dispute and she "became abusive to staff." It was when staff were trying to eject Akhter that she lashed out at them, "kicking and pushing" at the women. While she also issued threats to kill two of them, the prosecution decided not to charge her with making threats to kill, the court heard.

Police were called but Akhter had already left and officers arrested her at her home later the same day. During police interviews she denied the allegations.

Defence counsel Conan Rea said it was clear both from Akhter giving evidence on her own behalf and from the psychiatric report that the defendant had mental health difficulties.

Sentencing Akhter, Judge Hamill said it "should be noted that assaults on hospital staff will not be tolerated" and warned the defendant that any further offending, especially if violence is involved "and I will sentence you again".

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