Intoxicated Cork woman who punched nurse in A&E has term reduced on appeal

The victim was punched in the side of the head during the attack
The victim was punched in the side of the head during the attack

A woman jailed for punching a nurse while she was intoxicated in A&E has had her jail term reduced on appeal.

Samantha Corbett, (30), with an address at Russell Place, Mallow, Co Cork had pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to the nurse at Mercy University Hospital on July 26 2014.

Corbett was sentenced to three years in prison with the final twelve months suspended by Judge David Riordan on April 22 2015.

Speaking on behalf of the Court of Appeal today, Mr Justice John Edwards said Corbett was a patient awaiting treatment at the Mercy University Hospital emergency department when she was being dealt with by two staff members.

While the nurse was assisting her colleague, she was punched in the right side of the face by Corbett resulting in her falling to the floor.

Corbett claimed to have no recollection of the circumstances in which the assault took place. She was highly intoxicated at the time and she readily identified herself on CCTV footage but could not remember what happened, the judge said.

In a victim impact statement the victim said she had been a nurse for 22 years, 11 of which were spent in the emergency department. The assault had changed her day-to-day life and she was left with neck pain on a daily basis, she said.

There were many days she could not carry out her activities as a mother of three children, she said, and she felt guilty about having to ask people to help out.

The nurse said she often asked herself what she did to deserve the assault when she was only carrying out the duties of her job.

Mr Justice Edwards said it was somewhat unsatisfactory that the sentencing judge did not state where on the scale of seriousness he placed the offence; he had merely said the appropriate sentence was three years.

Mr Justice Edwards said it was unclear how there could have been less than two years mitigation.

Corbett had a young child who was taken into care and she herself has had significant substance abuse as well as alcohol dependency problems, the judge said.

The case properly judged, Mr Justice Edwards said, would have attracted a headline sentence of four years and mitigation could reduce it to two.

However, the court suspended a further nine months of the sentence on condition Corbett continues to engage with addiction counselling services in prison and following her release, engages with the probation and welfare services.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, left Corbett with a net sentence of 15 months in jail.

Corbett was required to enter into her own bond of €100 on those conditions and to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the suspended portion of her sentence and for two years post release.

When asked if she undertook to be so bound, she said “yeah”.