Guilty plea | 

Woman avoids jail term for stabbing hostel cleaner and biting another staff member

McCann bit her finger and held onto it for ten seconds before the second victim, a cleaner, came to his colleague’s assistance.

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Sonya McLean

A woman who stabbed a hostel cleaner after biting another member of staff who tried to stop a fight has avoided a jail term.

Mary Bridget McCann (19) was a resident in the hostel in College Street, Dublin 2, when a fight broke out between her and another woman staying there. The first staff member, a porter, tried to intervene when she saw McCann had a steak knife.

McCann bit her finger and held onto it for ten seconds before the second victim, a cleaner, came to his colleague’s assistance. McCann stabbed him in the thigh and there were concerns an artery in his leg had been ruptured because of the extent of his blood loss.

McCann, who is now living in homeless accommodation on the North Circular Road with Focus Ireland, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of assault causing harm on October 11, 2020.

She has 23 previous convictions, including nine for assault causing harm and eight for assault.

Passing sentencing, Judge Melanie Greally said McCann came before the court with a large number of previous convictions. She said McCann had been 18 at the time of the offences and was having a difficult transition from the care system to homeless accommodation.

She said McCann said she was carrying the knife for her own protection and had been in a state of heightened vigilance.

Judge Greally noted she was now engaging well with services, was now at moderate risk of reoffending and there were indications she is acquiring some stability in relation to the various risk factors.

She said she was taking into account McCann’s extreme youth and vulnerability. She has not come to further garda attention since the offence and is progressing well.

She imposed concurrent sentences totalling two years which she suspended for two years on strict conditions.

At a previous sentencing hearing, Garda Cathal Kelly told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that McCann was arrested and questioned on the day of the offence. She said she had not meant to stab the hostel cleaner and said she could not recall biting the woman.

Gda Kelly agreed that the man has not returned to working in the hostel because of his anxiety around the assault. He was treated for a 2cm cut to his thigh and there was no tendon or nerve damage.

The second victim was treated for a bite wound to her finger and got a preventive injection for hepatitis B and tetanus.

She said in her victim impact statement that she forgave McCann and wanted to wish her “all the best”, although she said McCann should think of how her actions will affect others.

Gda Kelly agreed with Kate Egan BL, defending, that there had been an argument over money in the hostel and McCann believed that someone had taken €10 from her.

She further agreed that McCann claimed she was carrying the knife for her own protection.

Gda Kelly accepted that McCann made admissions during garda interview and co-operated with the investigation.

Ms Egan told the court that her client had lived in and out of care since she was three years old and had been in 48 different placements. This had been her first placement in an adult hostel.

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