Defendant had ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character


A son found out on Mother’s Day that his 59-year-old mum, who has racked up 210 convictions in the last six years after having a completely clear record up until then, had been arrested again.

A court heard a resident of the Simon Community in Larne’s Curran Road alleged Mary O’Neill threatened him with “the IRA” after she slapped him on the face.

Ballymena Magistrates Court was told that during the same incident, late on Saturday March 25, O’Neill, whose address was given as the Simon Community, nipped a female support worker in the arm and would not let go for a minute. When police were called, O’Neill was abusive and twice kicked a female officer in the legs.

O’Neill pleaded guilty to two charges of common assault and one of assault on police.

A prosecutor said police were called at 11.15pm after a man said he was assaulted.

During a police interview, O’Neill said she had no recollection as she had been drinking heavily. She said she had only been released from Hydebank Prison where she had been in sobriety and her tolerance to alcohol had been lowered.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said O’Neill had a completely clear record up until six years ago but now has committed 210 offences, mostly for public disorder.

He said his client has been in “utter freefall” and that her drinking started as a “coping mechanism” due to events in her life.

Mr Ballentine said: “Unfortunately over the last six years this merry-go-round has continued. She was released from Hydebank last Thursday”.

In sobriety he said the defendant is “genteel but with drink in she completely changes and one cannot see a more stark case, a Jekyll and Hyde case”.

The solicitor said O’Neill’s son heard on Mother’s Day she had been arrested again.

District Judge Peter King imposed a two months sentence, suspended for a year, and hoped O’Neill would “take the chance” she was getting and perhaps have an opportunity to re-connect with her son.