A woman who bit a police officer after damaging a room in the Armagh City Hotel has been told: “If you have money to drink then you have money to pay the consequences for it.”
The 31-year-old’s barrister told court: “Unless the hotel was fully occupied there is no way of accounting for loss of earnings.”
Natasha Morgan, of Church Avenue in Dundrum, Co Down, appeared for sentencing on criminal damage, two counts of assault on police and attempted criminal damage at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
After hearing that the defendant had failed to attend with probation for the preparation of a presentence report, District Judge Paul Copeland wished to proceed with sentencing.
Prosecution outlined that on September 21, police received a report from staff at the Armagh City Hotel that a bedroom had been damaged by a resident.
Officers spoke to the defendant, who was identified as the culprit, Morgan was verbally abusive towards the police and this continued despite her being warned.
It was noted that the defendant had slurred speech, was unsteady on her feet and appeared intoxicated.
As one constable reviewed CCTV, Morgan attempted to leave and threw a phone at a window.
The defendant had to be restrained and taken to the ground.
Morgan continued to struggle; she kicked on officer to the right side of his face and bit another leaving him with redness and bite marks.
As she was escorted from the hotel and taken to Dungannon Custody Suite the defendant shouted “up the RA”.
During an interview the following day, the defendant said the last thing she could remember was going back to her room.
She also admitted to police that she had been under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Prosecution stated that the total cost of the damage came to £2,760 including items such as the television, carpet, lamps and crockery.
Defence barrister David McKeown said: “This is a woman who suffered a tragic event shortly before this incident and used alcohol as a way of coping with it.
“She has been suffering from significant mental health difficulties which she is trying work through.”
He continued: “Most of the damage quoted for the room was because it was viewed as unrentable but unless the hotel was fully occupied there is no way of accounting for loss of earnings.
“She is also currently in receipt of benefits which means it would be very difficult for her to make reparations.”
District Judge Copeland questioned how someone on benefits could afford to be in such a hotel.
Mr McKeown stated: “It was paid for by her partner at the time; it was essentially a holiday to get over the tragic news and this would not be a regular occurrence for Ms Morgan.
“It is the tragic news coupled with the alcohol which led to this. Her only record is for relatively minor motoring matters, no TV licence and no insurance.”
District Judge Copeland said: “There are consequences to your actions, which were fueled by drink and drugs.
“There are a number of issues here. The probation service are there to assist you and the court to ensure you don’t get into trouble again.”
The case was adjourned until December 10 for the preparation of a presentence report.
District Judge Copeland told the defendant: “There is no way of me wiping the costs of the damages. This was a legitimate business employing honest, hardworking people.
“If you have money to drink then you have money to pay the consequences for it.”
Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.