Schizophrenic woman in garda knife attack sentenced

A woman with schizophrenia who attacked a garda with a ten inch kitchen knife has been jailed for two years by Judge McDonagh at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A woman with schizophrenia who attacked a garda with a ten inch kitchen knife has been jailed for two years by Judge McDonagh at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Elizabeth Cumberton, aged 25, had been given a suspended sentence last December by Judge McDonagh so that she could remain in treatment after he was advised that prison wasn't the appropriate place for her.

Cumberton of Mountjoy Street, Dublin 1 had been a patient in the Central Mental Hospital before been given the two year suspended sentence and her case was re-entered because she left a hostel in Portarlington, County Laois and refused to return there.

Judge McDonagh said he had no option but to activate the two-year sentence.

Cumberton pleaded guilty to assaulting Garda Karl Carroll causing him harm and also to assaulting

Garda Ronan Moore who was acting in the execution of his duty on October 26, 2004.

Sergeant Brian Quinn said last December that Cumberton struck Gda Carroll on the neck with the 10" kitchen knife after he tried to stop her when he saw her jogging past carrying it.

Sgt Quinn it took some minutes to restrain her and both Garda Carroll and Gda Moore struck her with batons on her arm when she continued to "swing violently" at them with the knife.

She cut Garda Carroll's neck leaving him with a laceration that needed six stitches. He was left with an one inch permanent scar and suffered with panic attacks immediately after the assault.

Cumberton had 47 previous convictions including offences for possession of knives, assault and obstructing gardaí.

Dr Paul O'Connell, the director of the Central Mental Hospital, told Judge McDonagh last December that he would have difficulty providing a structured after care programme for Cumberton.

He said she had a severe form of schizophrenia which he said took months to stabilise and he added that she had probably achieved all she could at the hospital.

Dr O'Connell said then that Cumberton needed to move into a 24 hour staffed hostel that could help her continue with her rehabilitation with the view to eventually living in the community.

He told Ms Marie Torrens BL, defending, that he had tried very hard to locate a residential place for Cumberton and that he had eventually found a suitable hostel but he was told they were unable to help.

"We are, I am afraid stuck," Dr O'Connell told Judge McDonagh before he told him that jail was not an appropriate place for Cumberton.

Judge McDonagh said last December that although he didn't want to make little of the assault on Gda Carroll, which could have had devastating consequences, he accepted it would not serve justice or the community to jail Cumberton.

He added then that the court also had a function to rehabilitate a person to see if they could be released into society without fear of them harming any member of the public and he suspended the sentence for three years on condition that she reside at a hostel identified by Dr O'Connell and continue to be treated by her doctor.

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