Woman attacker jailed to protect Burnley people

editorial image

A DANGEROUS alcoholic who attacked two men in one night has been jailed indefinitely.

One of Deborah Slater’s victims needed extensive brain surgery for life-threatening injuries. Slater (49) had turned on John Keefe when he laughed as she hit Anthony Catterall with a heavy soup mug, after a drinking session.

Mr Catterall needed 20 stitches in his head and face. Mr Keefe was knocked unconscious by Slater, who then carried on hitting him. His injuries were so serious that he developed three blood clots in his swollen and bleeding brain. Slater also went into the kitchen to look for a knife so she could continue the attack on Mr Keefe, was but stopped by another woman at the house in Heap Street, Burnley.

Burnley Crown Court was told Slater was on a suspended prison sentence for stabbing her “abusive” ex-partner when she attacked the men, and was reported as saying she had “done” them, saying: “I told them I would and they deserved it. They had it good style.”

Slater, who has lived in Padiham and more recently in Burnley, admitted wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and wounding, when she appeared in court in November. She had been given an indeterminate prison sentence to protect the public and must serve three-and-a-half years, less 121 days, before the parole board can consider if she is safe to be released.

Mr Simon James (prosecuting) said a group of people had been drinking throughout the day at the house. Mr Catterall said something to Slater and struck her in the eye. In response, she got a ceramic soup mug and hit him repeatedly, particularly around the eye. He went to the floor. Mr Keefe laughed and she then turned her attentions to him. He went to the floor unconscious and Slater continued to strike him, possibly about eight times. She went to the kitchen, looking for a knife, but was prevented from getting one.

Mr James said Mr Catterall had 14 stitches to his eye, six in his head and also suffered other gashes and bruises. Mr Keefe, said to have dependency problems, told police the pain of his injury made him feel as if his head was going to explode. He had to have 52 stitches and has a permanent scar from his forehead, across the back of his head to his ear.

Slater told police she drank heavily and it caused her to black out and have no memory. She said she hoped she had not committed the offences.

In December 2009, Slater had been given a suspended prison sentence for wounding her former partner from whom she said she had suffered years of domestic abuse. She had also committed that offence after a drinking session.

In mitigation, Mr Andrew Nuttall said Slater, who has been on remand for 120 days, had suffered violence from men. She did not start the violence on the night of the latest offences, but reacted to it.

Mr Nuttall said: “Mr Keefe was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. In all other respects she is a very decent human being indeed. It’s tragic that these men were injured in the way that they were and it’s tragic this lady should be before the courts and going to prison for a long time, ultimately because of her abuse of alcohol.”

Sentencing, Recorder Nick Clarke QC said Slater’s response to being abused by men had been to become alcohol dependent, sometimes drinking from morning until night, and taking cannabis.

He told her: “You have demonstrated a pattern of escalating violence and it’s right to say you could have killed John Keefe. I have no doubt if somebody hadn’t stopped you taking the knife from the kitchen, you would have done.”

He added there was a high likelihood Slater would return to alcohol misuse, adding: “You pose a significant risk of causing serious harm to members of the public.”