Kettering woman placed pillow over victim's face and threatened to kill her

She spent more than a year in prison on remand, with psychiatrists deeming her not suitable for a transfer to hospital

By Sam Wildman
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 10:24 am
Bernadette Mullan
Bernadette Mullan

A Kettering woman threatened to kill someone and placed a pillow over their face just weeks after assaulting police and hospital workers in a desperate attempt to go to prison.

Bernadette Mullan, who has suffered from bipolar disorder and a complex personality disorder, met her victim in hospital and was living with her at the time of the terrifying incident last year.

She was originally charged with attempted murder - an offence a jury cleared her of earlier this year - and spent more than a year on remand at HMP Peterborough with psychiatrists deeming her not suitable for a transfer to hospital.

But the 35-year-old will be released from prison on Tuesday (July 13) after a judge sentenced her to 26 months in custody, a sentence effectively already served on remand.

Prosecutor Andy Peet said: "This was an extremely frightening incident."

Northampton Crown Court heard police were called to King Street at about 11.30am on May 6 after the victim woke up to find Mullan placing a pillow over her face and making threats to kill her.

The victim was not injured in the incident and told police Mullan had "gone off on one".

She was later convicted by a jury of a charge of threats to kill.

It was later revealed that she had been arrested weeks earlier after assaulting six emergency workers on March 17 in Kettering. During both sets of offences she was in a poor state of mental health.

She had called 999 and said she had taken an overdose before lunging at a KGH healthcare assistant and pushing her into a cupboard. When she was arrested she spat at a police officer - when the nation was in the early stages of the Covid pandemic - and had a spit hood placed on her.

Mullan, of no fixed address, kicked out at officers before screaming: "I am going to f*** you up. I'm not scared of the police. I am going to prison."

She then attacked an NHS matron and shouted: "There you go, there's another f****** assault."

The court heard she also shouted racist comments at nursing staff.

Mr Peet said: "She was at all times abusive and aggressive."

When she was taken into custody Mullan then attacked other officers, grabbing one and scratching her after asking for a blanket. She said she intended to take her hostage in the cell and said that "someone was going to die" for what had been done to her.

Mullan later said she wanted to go to prison to get a roof over her head when interviewed, before she admitted seven charges of assaulting an emergency worker at Northampton Magistrates' Court.

Sentencing, Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking QC told her: "Everybody who was there was trying to help you."

The court heard Mullan had previously threatened to take a local authority worker hostage in 2014 and spent more than three years between 2015 and 2019 in hospital for treatment.

When she assaulted police and hospital staff in March 2020 she was taken to St Mary's Hospital before being released a week later.

While she was at HMP Peterborough psychiatrists who assessed her considered that she was not suitable to be detained in hospital and did not warrant a hospital order.

Mitigating, David Nathan QC said Mullan had already served the equivalent of a 28-month prison sentence and had improved in recent months, adding that an extended stay in prison would be detrimental to her.

He said: "She has been in custody during the most difficult period's been very hard for her."

Judge Lucking QC ruled that there was no justification for extending Mullan's stretch in prison.

She willl spend the remainder of her sentence on licence and will be recalled to prison if she breaches supervision requirements.