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Newbury woman claims drink was spiked before assaulting her neighbour

Former restaurant manager blames 'acid' for garden assault in her underwear

Chris Ord

Reporter:

Chris Ord

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01635 886639

Court

A NEWBURY woman claims her drink had been spiked before she assaulted her neighbour in her front garden while wearing just her underwear.

Leanne Fitzgerald, of Ewing Way, had initially pleaded not guilty to common assault, but changed her plea to guilty ahead of the trial.

On Thursday, May 12, the 33-year-old was sentenced to a 30-day community order at Reading Magistrates Court, who also imposed a restraining order preventing any contact with her neighbour, Eileen Smith.

The former restaurant manager also pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage.

A further count of criminal damage and two charges of failing to surrender were withdrawn.

In a probation report, the court heard how Miss Fitzgerald had struggled with alcoholism and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Speaking about the incident on February 20, the probation officer explained how Miss Fitzgerald had been drinking with friends.

She said: “She maintains her drink was spiked, that someone had put a tablet of acid inside it, and before she knew it she was in the garden in her underwear and didn’t know what was going on.”

Recommending a community order, the probation officer said Miss Fitzgerald was “unsuitable for unpaid work and unsuitable for a curfew”.

Defending, Martin Hennessy said: “She is sorry for what took place, particularly with her neighbour.

“It would appear Miss Fitzgerald is certainly of the view that she needs help.

“She had previously been manager of a local restaurant.

“Miss Fitzgerald will be the first to admit that she needs to address these deep-seated problems.”

Sentencing Miss Fitzgerald, district judge Davinder Lachhar refused to give the defendant full credit for her guilty plea for the assault – since it had only been entered that day.

She handed her an 18-month community order with a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

District judge Lachhar said: “Hopefully that will assist you with how to deal with the alcohol abuse and whatever is going on with your neighbour.

“I hope you won’t be back before the courts again.”

Miss Fitzgerald was also ordered to pay £400 compensation to Sovereign Housing for criminal damage to a door.

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