Court hears woman told police she believed someone was outside her Ballymena flat with a ‘sniper rifle’

Antrim Area Hospital. File picture.

A WOMAN who told police she believed someone was outside her Ballymena flat with a “sniper rifle” has appeared in court for breaching an ASBO which prevents her from ‘inconveniencing the emergency services’.

Denise Gray (57), of High Street in Ballymena, appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court via a video link from her solicitor’s office.

A prosecutor said on September 15 this year police received a number of calls from the defendant “asking for help from police”.

Denise Gray


The lawyer said Gray told police she thought people were outside her property and were going to break-in; “that there was energy coming from the switchroom outside her flat”; and that her phone had been cut off.

She also told police there were “shadows of people outside” and asked police for medical help but said she didn’t want to go to Antrim Area Hospital.

She was repeatedly advised to contact Ambulance Service if she required medical assistance but she declined.

Following further comments, police attended her address over concerns for safety and the defendant told police she believed there were “males outside her flat with a sniper rifle”.

The defendant was intoxicated.

The prosecutor said the defendant had breached an ASBO, in place until 2022, which prevents her from “inconveniencing the emergency services.”

The defendant showed police two calls to the 101 number and one to 999 on her phone.

Due to safety concerns she was taken to Antrim Area Hospital for assessment by a Mental Health Team but at the hospital she began to shout loudly at a public smoking area despite being warned to moderate her behaviour.

The defendant carried on shouting and was arrested and taken to Antrim PSNI Station.

She was later interviewed and made full admissions to charges of breaching an ASBO and being disorderly and was “very remorseful”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said the offences occurred on the same day the defendant had received a suspended sentence at court.

Defence barrister Neil Moore said Gray was “no stranger to the courts” and on September 15 she had been given a three months suspended sentence.

She has a “daily battle with alcoholism,” he added.

The judge said he would defer sentencing “but there must be a clear understanding that if she doesn’t adhere to the conditions I am going to impose then the likelihood is that she will go to prison”.

The judge told the defendant: “You have placed your liberty very much in jeopardy, you have a poor record for these types of offences and you are in breach of a suspended sentence”.

He said he would give her an opportunity to “prove yourself” and get help.

The judge deferred sentence until next May and said she must not re-offend and has to “engage positively” with agencies.

However, the defendant was back before a court on Monday of this week when it emerged she had again breached her ASBO.

A police officer said it was the fourth such breach.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said the defendant, who had previously been a nurse, had a “relapse” and made two phone calls to the Ambulance Service at the weekend, “one complaining of coronavirus symptoms and the other was chest pains” but after being seen she then refused to go to Antrim Hospital.

The lawyer said in sobriety the defendant is mannerly but with drink taken “the mask slips and that is why the phone calls are made”.

District Judge Peter King said it was an “extremely sad case” but said he would admit her to bail although he warned her to deal with “whatever issues you have”.

The case was adjourned to December.

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