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Woman who intimidated assault victim outside courthouse gets lengthy suspended sentence

The injured party alleged that whilst outside the courthouse having a smoke defendant approached her and made a threat to kill her

Armagh Courthouse

A Newtownhamilton woman who intimidated a woman whom she assaulted outside the courthouse on the day of contest has been handed a lengthy suspended sentence.

The deputy district judge told the 36-year-old: “This is an absolutely shocking series of offences, even though one dates back to 2018, the impact of the offending has been quite extreme.”

Anne Marie Ward, of Dungormley Estate, appeared for sentencing on a litany of offences at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday via videolink from Hydebank.

The defendant was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of disorderly behaviour, harassment, three counts of  intimidating a witness, threats to kill, improper use of communications to cause anxiety, two counts of improper use of public electronic communications and two counts of resisting police.

Prosecution outlined that these offences were accrued by the defendant over three separate incidents.

Court heard that at 9.50pm on December 8, of 2018, police were called to an ongoing incident in St Matthew’s Estate in Keady.

The injured party had been at home with her ex-partner, when she answered the door to this defendant, who is the male’s current partner.

Ward then forced her way into the property, grabbing the female by the hair and pulling her into the garden.

Her partner attempted to intervene, but she proceeded to kick the injured party to the chest and stomach causing her to fall to the ground.

The injured party received a punch to her left cheek, before she was able to grapple with Ward and sit on her as she awaited police.

Ward was said to have shouted at the injured party whilst on the ground referring to her as “fat” and a “heifer”.

Officers arrived to find the two females fighting. The injured party was observed to have numerous cuts and clumps of hair missing.

Ward was arrested at 10.10pm, but continued to shout stating that she would “kill” the injured party when she got out.

The defendant gave a no comment interview the next day, with a second interview on January 10 proving to have the same result, other than her claiming to have “little recollection” due to her intoxication.

The on February 18, of last year, at Armagh Courthouse the injured party informed police that she had been contacted by the defendant the day prior.

She stated Ward had sent her voicemails via Facebook messenger, the first at 12.40am in which a number of profanities were used.

In a second, the defendant had warned the injured party not to be at the court for the contested hearing.

There was further contact from another profile, in a name the injured party knew Ward to use, from which derogatory messages were sent.

Police informed the prosecution of the allegations and a decision was made to put a halt to proceedings.

The injured party further alleged that whilst outside the courthouse having a smoke Ward approached her and made a threat to kill her.

The defendant was arrested and conveyed to Banbridge Custody Suite. During interview Ward admitted making the contact on Facebook but denied speaking to the injured party outside the court or telling her not to attend.

Then at 3pm on March 2, of this year, police received a report from the Simon Community in Armagh in relation to a disorderly female, who was not a resident.

Officers located this defendant, identified as the female in question, sitting on a bench on Market Street.

It was established that she was wanted on a bench warrant for breach of High Court bail. She had further breached this by being over five miles outside of Newtownhamilton.

Ward resisted arrest, kicking out at officers with limb restraints having to be applied and a cell van having to be requested.

The defendant continually shouted and swore at officers, and when cautioned for these offences her reply was “f*** off”.

At 4.10pm, whilst at Lurgan Police Station, a preliminary breath test was requested as per her bail conditions.

Ward refused, telling police: “I don’t care, f*** off”, and it was later discovered that the defendant had also failed to sign at a police station since her release on bail.

Defence barrister Conor Coulter informed the court that his client had received an enhanced combination order, consisting of 40 hours community service and two years probation, at the Crown Court on Monday.

Providing the presentence report and a psychiatric report to the court, he stated: “This gives some background on this person’s issues. It also explained the exceptional course taken yesterday.

“Ms Ward fully concedes she has not covered herself in glory. She was in a destructive relationship which led to her to become involved in this type of offending behaviour.”

Mr Coulter told theh court that relationship – which he alleged was “one characterized by alcohol, drug misuse and a period of physical abuse” –  had since ended.

He stated that Ward was now living with her mother, who had a “zero tolerance”, which in the past led to a lapse in offending.

The barrister added: “It is hoped that under this order she will be able to have a proper rehabilitation. She needs to realise the answer to her problems does not lie at the bottom of a bottle or in street drugs.”

Deputy District Judge Laura Ivers stated: “This is an absolutely shocking series of offences, even though one dates back to 2018, the impact of the offending has been quite extreme.

“You assaulted this woman, then compounded this by intimidating her whilst at the court. This is offending which very often finds itself before the Crown Court.”

Ward was sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended for two years and a restraining order was granted in relation to the injured party for a period of two years.

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