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Woman who fled to Ireland after stabbing homeless victim with broken wine bottle jailed

‘The woman that appears before you today is not the same woman who caused those terrible injuries’

Keisha Harty

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A woman who fled to Ireland after stabbing a homeless person with a broken wine bottle, leaving her victim with a permanent scar has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Keisha Harty had flipped over a table before launching herself at her victim during a boozy New Year's Eve party.

She was only brought to justice after going on the run for nearly a year when she was caught shoplifting in Ireland.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Anna Rudolf was at her home on Tudor Road in Rock Ferry, Wirral, with her two young children at around 8pm on December 31, 2019.

Her neighbours Tracey Morgan and the 26-year-old defendant knocked on her door.

Prosecutor Neil Bisarya said the pair had been drinking and had brought alcohol with them.

A man called Robert Murray brought Nicola Hilton to the house shortly before midnight.

Hilton had been sleeping on the sofas of friends, having recently been made homeless.

Harty began arguing with her and shouting and swearing while sitting at a table with Ms Rudolf and Ms Morgan shortly after 3am on New Year's Day.

Ms Hilton, who was stood next to the table opposite her, "did not respond".

"Suddenly and without warning", Harty flipped the dining table and began attacking her by grabbing her hair, the Liverpool Echo reported.

“Clumps were pulled out despite the interventions of others, before the pair were eventually separated.”

After Ms Hilton retreated to the kitchen, Harty picked up a wine glass which had been smashed during the scuffle, "lunged forward" and struck Hilton in the face.

Harty fled the property along with Ms Morgan and Mr Murray. Ms Hilton, who suffered a "deep laceration to the right side of her face which was bleeding profusely", was taken to hospital.

There she required a skin graft and 21 stitches.

Harty, now of Highfield Road in Rock Ferry, was arrested at 9pm the same day.

She claimed under interview that she had left the scene at 2am.

However, she was confronted with CCTV evidence showing her leaving a minute before police and paramedics were called.

She stated that "everyone was fighting with each other" but continued to deny having assaulted Ms Hilton.

However, she "could not explain" why her blood had been left on her leggings.

The prosecutor said the victim had been left "traumatised" by the incident.

"She can't walk down the street without the fear of being attacked", the prosecutor said, adding that she also worried that others would stare at the permanent scar she has been left with as a result of the attack.

Harty was charged with but pleaded not guilty to wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.

She was released on bail and a warrant was issued for her arrest in July last year when she failed to appear in court.

Two trials scheduled for that month did not go ahead due to her absence.

It later emerged that she had absconded to Ireland, where she was jailed for shoplifting in April 2022.

Harty - who has four previous convictions for six offences - was extradited back to the UK on October 11 after serving this sentence.

She then changed her plea to guilty, and admitted breaching court bail.

Tom Challinor, defending, said his client understood and accepted what she was to be sentenced for.

“It is a courageous plea,” he said, “and one which spares the victim the final ordeal of being put through a contested trial.

"The offence is completely out of character,” he added. “What seems to have gone wrong for Ms Harty is that she became involved in two relationships, one after the other, which were particularly difficult.

"That is an understatement. They were physically violent and emotionally traumatic relationships.

"The first come to an end in about 2015 when Ms Harty was still quite young. She came to England, where her father lives, to secure a fresh start.

"But she walked straight into a second abusive relationship. That came to an end, finally, last October.

"Very serious threats were made against her by her partner, and she was housed in accommodation out of the city to get her away from that man. This man found out where she was living.

"It was shortly after that Ms Harty disappeared. That man persuaded her to cut off her electronic tag and go to Ireland with him.

"All of that, the physical and mental abuse, has deeply traumatised her. She found herself in the grip of a drug addiction.

"It was against that background, and in the chaos of addiction to heroin and crack cocaine, that she found herself behaving in the way that she did on that New Year's Eve.

"The woman that appears before you today is not the same woman who caused those terrible injuries - she has the support to keep her on the right track when eventually released."

Harty, who appeared via video link to HMP Styal, was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

She must serve two thirds of this sentence before being eligible for release on licence, while Judge Gary Woodhall also imposed an indefinite restraining order.

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