25 Sept 2022

Homeless woman jailed for 'bizarre' assault on shop staff

Homeless woman jailed for 'bizarre' assault on shop staff

A homeless woman who punched a man in his “rear end” before stabbing him with a suspected syringe in a row over cigarettes has been jailed for two and a half years.

Sarah Dunne (29) was engaging in “bizarre conduct, with no rhyme or reason” when she accosted the man who was standing outside the shop he worked in on North Portland Street, Dublin, in November 2019, defence counsel said.

Dunne asked the man for a cigarette before throwing her bike on the ground and screaming at him when he said he had none left, Garda Conor Mulhern told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday.

As the man, who was with his girlfriend, walked back into the shop, Dunne punched him twice in his backside before he felt something cutting him in his right side. She then left the scene.

Dunne, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing harm to the man.

After the attack, the victim was fearful he had been stabbed with a syringe. He went to Mountjoy garda station in a panicked state and was taken by ambulance to hospital, where doctors found a cut consistent with a syringe puncture mark, the court heard.

He was giving preventative treatments for Hepatitis A, B and C, along with a tetanus shot. He also had to take medication to prevent HIV for the next three months.

The victim was “very upset and couldn't stop thinking about what had happened”, Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, told the court. He has since returned to his native Brazil and declined to make a victim impact statement.

Dunne was arrested in May 2020 after she broke into at a house in Cabra. In relation to that offence, she pleaded guilty to one count of trespass and theft at Cabra Park on May 26, 2020 and will be sentenced on July 29.

Cathal McGreal BL, defending, said his client had been homeless for a number of years and suffered from mental health issues and heroin addiction. She is on anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medication.

She is now clean of heroin and is no longer on methadone, the court heard. She has 24 previous convictions including burglary and theft.

Sentencing Dunne, Judge Melanie Greally said Dunne had left her victim “terrified”. The offence involved the victim being “punched in his rear end” and it involved “the use of a sharp object believed to be a syringe”, the judge said.

“(The victim) had to endure the worry of possible health implications of the possible use of a syringe,” the judge said.

She handed down a two-and-a-half year sentence and backdated it to May 2020 when Dunne went into custody.

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