Mary Smith (64) and the victim had consumed a bottle of vodka and were drinking from a second bottle at Smith's home in south Dublin when Smith suddenly began a sustained and bloody assault on the victim.
The victim, who is in her 60s, had two ribs fractured, and suffered serious damage to her eye which required 21 stitches. She told the court that because of damage to the nerves in her hand she cannot write or pick up a cup of tea.
The victim later told gardaí that the attack came “out of the blue” when Smith hit her in the head with the vodka bottle. The victim fell to the floor and Smith continued to hit her on the ground.
Smith was repeatedly telling the victim she “was evil”. The attack eventually stopped when Smith fell back into her chair and fell asleep.
The victim crawled into the hallway and came to sometime later with Smith standing over her saying “who did this terrible thing to you?” Smith went to a neighbours' flat and asked them to call an ambulance and after gardaí arrived she fell unconscious again.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Smith had no idea that she had attacked her friend and was appalled and horrified to learn of her actions.
Carol Doherty BL, defending, said her client has not touched a drink since and associates alcohol now with “this negative and terrible event”.
She said that Smith was struggling with the pressures of the pandemic lockdown and was drinking to cope with it.
She and the victim had been friends for a number of years and it was “common practice” for them to meet at Smith's home for drinks, Garda Sergeant John Cullinan told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting.
Smith of Abbot Court, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at her home on May 26, 2020.
In her victim impact statement, the victim said that she didn't feel safe when she came home from hospital two weeks after the attack and kept imagining Smith coming to her front door. She said she has lost her trust in people and is afraid to go outside by herself.
Ms Doherty handed a number of testimonials from friends and family into court and said these showed a woman of previous good character who was a very valuable member of society.
Sgt Cullinan told Ms Doherty that he didn't believe Smith would come before the court again and said she had no previous convictions. Counsel told the court that her client was actively trying to find a new home to move away from the victim.
Judge Pauline Codd said that this was an unspeakable act of violence on Smith's part. She said she was concerned that Smith address her alcohol use and said that self-intoxication was not a defence.
She imposed a three-year prison term. Noting the mitigation, including Smith's plea of guilty, her remorse and her previous good character, she suspended the sentence on condition that Smith refrain from all alcohol consumption for three years.
She also ordered Smith, who is on disability benefit, to pay a sum of €1,500 over in the next year and ordered that this go to the victim or to a charity of her nomination.