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Woman spared jail for blind Pc joke

A woman who shouted "bang bang" at blinded police officer Pc David Rathband said she was relieved after she avoided jail.

Kelsey Donkin was warned she could be jailed for up to 12 weeks when she admitted a public order offence at Newcastle Magistrates' Court on Monday.

But District Judge Stephen Earl sentenced her to a 12-month supervision order and ordered the 22-year-old to pay £105 costs out of her benefits.

He said: "To make fun of such an incident, frankly, is a mark of immaturity and pathetic, juvenile behaviour."

Donkin was showing off in front of 12 friends when she shouted "bang, bang" at Pc Rathband, who was blinded by Raoul Moat, as he walked into Newcastle Crown Court to attend the trial of two of Moat's accomplices on March 2.

The mother of three from Southwick, Sunderland, also made a gesture as though she was holding a shotgun and the incident left him so upset he had to go home.

Donkin, who has dyed her hair since Monday and wore glasses for the sentencing, replied "Aha", when asked afterwards if she was relieved to have escaped jail. She said: "I'm very, very sorry. I've written him a letter and I've apologised."

Judge Earl said he had received letters from people advising him how to sentence Donkin, such was the high profile of the case. The judge said some people would feel jail was the only way to deal with someone like Donkin for causing alarm or distress to the public servant who was tragically blinded at work, while others would feel that was "over the top".

After branding her immature, the judge continued: "However, you are not a dangerous criminal. You did a very foolish thing on the day. I am satisfied you do demonstrate remorse. I am satisfied that custody is not the answer. However, your thought processes do need some work. It is for that reason this is a case which is serious enough to warrant the intervention of the probation service."

Donkin, who receives Jobseeker's Allowance, no longer lives with her children as it was feared she could not keep them safe after she has been "targeted", her solicitor said. Judith Curry told the court: "She has made a very big mistake in life and she feels sorry about that."

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