Early release for ‘glassing’ woman in face

A 24-year-old woman jailed for glassing another woman in the face at a Belfast nightclub has won her legal battle to secure an earlier release.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 1:06 pm
Laganside court complex in Belfast city centre.

The Court of Appeal ruled that reducing Shana Wilson’s term behind bars from nine to six months still provided a deterrent sentence.

Lord Justice Treacy said: “The fact that offenders are young or female is no reason why they should not be punished severely when they behave in such a vicious and abhorrent manner.”

Wilson, with an address at Clareglen in Belfast, admitted unlawfully wounding the victim during a confrontation in September 2019.

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The court heard she followed the other woman out of the ladies toilets at the city centre nightclub and pushed a pint glass into her face.

The victim needed five stitches to a 1-2cm wound below her right eye, along with paper stitches to her forehead.

She also sustained several cuts to her arm from glass splinters. The scarring and psychological consequences still impact on her everyday life, the court was told.

Wilson initially denied hitting her with a pint glass, claiming she went into the gents because she was scared and had not seen what happened.

But earlier this year she pleaded guilty to wounding and received an 18-month sentence, split between half in custody and half on licence.

Appealing the sentence imposed, defence lawyers argued it was manifestly excessive.

Judges were told Wilson had no previous criminal record and expressed remorse. She was also said to suffer from anxiety having herself been the victim of a glassing incident in 2017.

Lord Justice Treacy backed prosecution submissions that this should have given her more reason to appreciate how dangerous such attacks can be.

However, he held that the starting point taken in the sentencing process had been too high.

“The fact that immediate imprisonment will follow from behaviour of this kind is in itself part of the deterrence the court seeks to impose,” the judge explained.

Imposing a substitute sentence of one year imprisonment, divided equally between custody and licence, he said that it did not compromise the need for “condign punishment”.

“Offenders who use gratuitous violence by injuring others by glassing them in the face must expect stiff prison terms. Drink is no excuse,” he stressed.

“Being young of whatever sex, having a clear record, holding down a job, striking only one blow or being drunk are not exceptional circumstances.

“In this case the culpability of the applicant is high, the degree of harm suffered by the victim is significant, and since a deterrent sentence is required the applicant’s previous good character and personal mitigation, whilst relevant, are of comparatively little weight.”