Mentally-ill woman is spared from custody after she assaulted a care worker

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A woman with mental health issues has narrowly been spared from custody after she assaulted a staff member at a supported living centre.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Wednesday, May 9, how Laura Smedley, 22, of Chestnut Avenue, Glapwell, had been subject to a meeting at The Birches centre, on Gladstone Road, Chesterfield, when she pushed a woman to her knees and fled armed with scissors.

Smedley, whose gender is listed as female, requested to be referred to as Lewis which court representatives attempted to acknowledge during the hearing.

Prosecuting solicitor Lynn Bickley said: “The defendant at the time of this offence was a resident at The Birches.

“The defendant had a meeting on January 2 with a social worker and staff members and it was to give a 28 day notice to leave due to his behaviour.

“Lewis went out for a cigarette and was asked to put it out. He puts it out and goes into a staff room with four staff members and Lewis was asked to leave because of confidential information in the room but he refused.

“Staff tried to escort him but he refused with his body weight and he pushed back against staff members and one who was the victim fell to her knees and in the process broke her glasses.”

Mrs Bickley added that Smedley grabbed a pair of scissors and went into the garden and police were called.

Smedley told police she was upset and was having a bad day and recalled grabbing the scissors but could not recall the incident.

She pleaded guilty to assault by beating.

The court heard the defendant committed the assault while she was subject to a conditional discharge and post sentence supervision after committing numerous previous assaults on care workers.

Defence solicitor Simon Dhillon said Smedley has mental health issues and struggles with anyone who touches her without warning.

Mr Dhillon added that Smedley was released from custody in November, 2017, but there was a recall because of a self-harm incident and she returned to Birches before the latest incident in January.

Smedley’s self-harm issues are no longer as severe, according to Mr Dhillon, and she has been living with her mum.

He added that Smedley’s emotional resilience is improving, she is taking medication, engaging with her doctor and is working with a psychologist with multi-agency support.

Magistrates sentenced Smedley to 14 weeks of custody suspended for 12 months with 80 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay £115 in compensation.