A WOMAN lying in bed was punched in the face several times in a “frightening” attack by an unknown assailant in the middle of the night, Coleraine Magistrates Court was told.
The attacker – Helen Dunlop (41), of Margaret Square in Ballymoney – had a previously clear record but was given a seven months prison sentence, suspended for two years.
District Judge Peter King said Coleraine Magistrates Court had to send out a message that such an attack was “completely unacceptable”.
A prosecutor said police received a report at 4.50am on July 2 this year that a woman had been lying in bed and was assaulted by an unknown woman who had entered and punched her several times in the face “for no reason”.
The woman suffered swelling to her eyes and a cut above her eye.
She told police the attacker was still at the property.
Defence solicitor Denise Gillan said it was conceded it would have been a “very frightening experience” for the injured woman and it “absolutely should not have happened”.
She said Dunlop, who has “learning difficulties”, had been drinking and had a “rush of blood to the head”.
The lawyer said the behaviour could not be condoned in any way shape or form and Dunlop had “lashed out entirely at the wrong target”.
Judge King said the defendant had a clear record and there had been a guilty plea but it had been a “nasty, unprovoked and misdirected attack” which should never have happened.
He noted Dunlop now had the the assistance of a social worker.
The judge said there were “issues” in Dunlop’s background and she had suffered tragedy but the court took a dim view of “unprovoked violence” and he had to send out a message that what she had done was unacceptable.
As well as the suspended jail term, the defendant was ordered to pay the injured party £500 compensation.