A woman who attacked two of her neighbours with a bag containing a bottle of vodka as they were gardening was fined £40.
Claudia Carrington, 22, who a court heard has a history of drink-related violence, swung the bag at the two women, aged 61 and 51, hitting one of them. Carrington faced 10 different hearings and four aborted trials in what her solicitor described as a ‘torturous passage through the courts’ of the case after it finally came to a close.
A trial date was set four times and the victims turned up to testify, but each hearing was adjourned due to missing evidence, legal issues or Carrington turning up late, Tameside magistrates court heard.
After a protracted legal process which started in July 2021, prosecutors dropped two charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against Carrington after they agreed to accept her original version of events.
Carrington, of North Road, Clayton, Manchester, pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of common assault and as well as the fine, she was also ordered to undertake 20 days of rehabilitation activity with the probation service as part of a nine-month community order.
The case was listed to be heard a total of 16 different times with lawyers and magistrates present. Carrington will have to pay £180 costs, but the rest of the legal bill will be met by the taxpayer. Magistrates were told she has convictions for two common assaults going back to December 2013 and a previous conviction for an offence of violence in 2014.
The legal saga began on July 2, 2021, after Carrington was arrested over the altercation with the neighbours as she returned to her former home in Oldham following a shopping trip. Gareth Hughes, prosecuting, said the neighbours were ‘doing some work in the garden’ and one was sitting on a chair.
He said: “There was Ring doorbell footage, though it is brief and it just shows the defendant entering into an altercation with them. She has a shopping bag containing a bottle of vodka. She has swung that and it makes contact with one of the victims.
“You can also see on the footage that a number of times she raised her hands to two of the victims and struck them. But rather than a slap, it was more pushing their hands away and striking their arms with her arms, an open palm making contact with the forearm.
“The complainants contacted police about this and made reports about this.
“The defendant was charged with the offences put before the courts and she made not guilty pleas to all offences. There were several trial dates made but they did not go ahead for one reason or another. Then there was a basis of plea in relation to the two assaults which the Crown accepted.
“Guilty pleas were entered due to the presence of what is akin to a weapon and also the vulnerabilities of the two victims. The guilty pleas are something the defence did offer previously, but it was the Crown’s decision not to accept it originally.”
Carrington’s solicitor, James Riley, said she had been to court on 10 occasions as the case progressed through a series of adjournments. He said: “It has had a torturous passage through the courts. We did in fact have a trial that started but during the course of cross-examination it became clear that there was some more Ring doorbell footage and CCTV footage that would assist the courts.
“The defendant has been hanging around waiting to come to court and she has been to court 10 times with this case. Eventually the Crown accepted what the defence had already submitted at an early stage.
“The defendant had to walk across the bottom of the complainant’s property to get to her house. She was walking across the bottom of the garden with her shopping bag when the altercation happened between the group of them. The defendant accepts that she confronts them, and there was a verbal exchange.”
Mr Riley said during the exchange, Carrington’s phone dropped out of her bag and that one of the complainants picked it up.
He said it was in the process of trying to get her phone back that one of the complainants was hit with her bag containing the vodka bottle, the handle of which he said was over her wrist, and that she threw her hands about. On the Ring doorbell footage one of the complainants can be heard saying ‘we have not got your phone’, the court heard.
Mr Riley added: “Towards the end of the footage you see one of the complainants say, ‘have your f***ing phone back’. That kind of brings the matter to an end. She accepts she shouldn’t have gone towards them and should not have got involved in the altercation in the first place.
“She accepted that her actions did not amount to self defence. It did amount to an assault, but only just. I invite you to resist the application for compensation. There is a little bit of a contribution from the complainants to the whole scenario, albeit the defendant does accept her responsibility and remorse for her actions.
“She had an awful and traumatic childhood and mental health issues have been a factor in her offending. She does have a tendency to binge drink.”
Sentencing, chairman of the bench Alex Walker told Carrington: ”We think that work with the probation service is important for you and we do not think that compensation is appropriate given the nature of the offence as described to us. This was a neighbour dispute and you have since moved out of the area. It is not necessary or proportionate to impose restraining orders.”
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