A woman narrowly escaped going to prison today after she attacked her partner with a knife during a drunken row.
A judge at Belfast Crown Court told Danielle Reid that “this is your last chance” and warned her any breach of the 18 month suspended sentence would be met with immediate custody.
The 31-year-old, of Heath Lodge Avenue, Whitebbey, Co Antrim, had pleaded to a single charge of wounding.
Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer told the court that the injured party Emmanuel McArdle was at his home address with the defendant Reid who was his partner at the time on the evening of December 8, 2015 and both had been drinking alcohol.
He said that at around 9.15pm an argument broke out and he “phoned the police to have her removed from the property”.
Mr Steer said that during the altercation Mr McArdle turned his back on her and Reid lifted a kitchen knife and “swiped him to lower part of his back” causing a one and a half inch laceration which needed a number of sutures.
He added that Reid then ran out of the property and later interviewed by police claimed she was “acting in self defence”.
Defence barrister John O’Connor said Reid had a very “traumatic background” and her criminal record didn’t start until the end of 2014.
He said that after her mother died her father “became an alcoholic”.
Mr O’Connor told the court that Reid had alcohol addiction problems as a result and was drinking a “litre bottle of vodka a day her life went into a “downward spiral”.
The defence barrister said Reid had been in a previous relationship with another man for 11 years and had suffered domestic violence at his hands.
The court heard that she had on a number of occasions overdosed on medication and had been admitted to hospital several times.
He added that Reid was now in a new relationship and had been “sober for the past three months’’ after she found out she was pregnant with his child.
But Mr O’Connor said that she recently miscarried after nine weeks.
He told the court that Reid “realises that she faces immediate custody in this case” but the Probation Service say they can work with her in relation to her addictions.
“This was not a premeditated assault. The wound was minor. It was superficial. This an exceptional case with exceptional circumstances.”
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said it was quite clear that Reid had an addiction to alcohol and was in a relationship that was “marred by domestic violence”.
He told the court that Reid’s partner of 11 years committed suicide in 2012 which had a “traumatic effect on her life”.
The judge said that her criminal record showed “increasing levels of violence” and was given probation for common assault.
“That order was breached and an immediate custodial sentence was imposed. The appeal came before me in April this year and I suspended that sentence for a period of two years.
“In this case the custody threshold has been passed and after a trial a sentence of two years would have been passed.
“By virtue of your guilty plea I am going to impose a sentence of 18 months in custody but I am going to suspend that sentence for a period of three years from today.
“I must make it absolutely clear to you that if you breach this order and you commit and further criminal offence you will be referred back to me and I will impose this sentence consecutive to any other sentence imposed,” added Judge Miller QC.