Jail for woman who threw boiling water into shop worker's face

A mother-of-two who flung boiling water at a shop worker's face has been jailed for 18 months.

Michelle Ruth (aged 40), pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting a female staff member causing her harm at Londis, O'Connell Street in Dublin on November 8, 2015.

Ruth, of Spring Garden Street, North Strand, Dublin has 158 previous convictions, mostly for shoplifting and public order offences.

Other convictions from the District Court include several for assault, robbery, criminal damage and possession of knives.

Judge Melanie Greally sentenced Ruth to three years imprisonment but suspended the final 18 months on condition that she keep the peace and be of good behaviour and follow all direction of the Probation Service for 18 months post-release.

At a previous sentence hearing, Judge Greally condemned what she said was “an extremely serious offence of wanton violence” which warranted serious punishment.

Garda Greg Dunne told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that on the morning in question, the injured party had been working in the shop when she noticed a man and woman at the coffee machine who had previously been barred.

The female staff member said she asked them to leave and became very afraid when the pair reacted strongly, pointing in her face and shouting. She asked the man to pay for his coffee, whereupon Ruth grabbed her by the hair.

Ruth then filled a paper cup with boiling water and flung it at the woman, and also threw a jar of powdered chocolate in her face.

A male customer intervened and Ruth and the man both ran shouting from the shop. They were later identified through CCTV footage and arrested.

The injured woman told gardaí after the incident that her face was really sore, swollen and red, and that she had been in shock and had gone straight to hospital.

Her victim impact statement was handed into court but not read out. Garda Dunne said there was no physical scarring but that mentally, the woman had struggled and had taken quite some time to recover.

Luigi Rea BL, defending, presented a letter of apology from the accused in which she expressed the hope that the injured party might one day forgive her.

In her letter, Ruth said there was no excuse for her behaviour and that she was devastated when she saw photos of the injuries she had caused.

A probation report said the accused had expressed disgust and shame at her actions.

Judge Greally said she took into account while considering her sentence the injuries caused by the assault and the extensive history of previous convictions. She gave Ruth credit for her plea, her personal circumstances, her remorse and her favourable engagement with drugs services.

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