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New Addington woman given suspended sentence for threatening neighbour with an axe

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A WOMAN who hurled racist abuse at her neighbour while threatening him with an axe has been spared a jail term.

Jennifer O'Neill was instead given a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months when she was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court, after pleading guilty to one count of threatening unlawful violence while demonstrating racial hatred.

The 46-year-old was arrested on September 11 last year and detained under the Mental Health Act after the outburst that day against her neighbour in Dunsfold Way, New Addington. Considering her sentence, Recorder David Balcombe QC said O'Neill was a "troubled lady" and he needed to be sure she was not a danger to herself or others.

Prosecuting, Vivian Walters told the court that O'Neill's neighbour Ayoola Olaleye had been leaving his house at the time of the incident.

She said: "He saw his neighbour, the defendant, who he knows as Jenny. She was sitting in her front garden [...] and she was shouting racial abuse, things like monkey, ape and telling him to go back to Africa.

"He ignored her at that stage – he was aware she had what he described as mental health issues. He got in his car and went to the post office."

He returned to find Ms O' Neill standing by the driver's door wielding an axe with which she hit the car door, Ms Walters said.

Ms O'Neill was arrested on suspicion of common assault and possession of a weapon, and interviewed over the offence more than a week later.

Her lawyer, Graham Knight, told the court on Monday his client should be released because she has been in custody since the offence and a psychiatric report had not recommended hospital treatment.

"The conclusion is that [while] things were very tough for her then currently she is fine," he said.

Considering her sentence last Monday, Recorder Balcombe said: "What I am concerned about is, whether or not your client would be released today or in the near future, that she have somewhere safe and secure to live at and have somewhere to get medication, should she need it.

"My concern is partly for the welfare of your client but also for the wider welfare of the community."

O'Neill had been due to stand trial for possessing an offensive weapon, assault by beating, racially aggravated common assault, and criminal damage to her police cell.

But the judge agreed to leave those charges on the file, after she pleaded guilty to the charge for which she was sentenced.


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