A WOMAN who suffers from physical and mental health problems felt that getting arrested was the only way to ensure her safety, magistrates heard.

Paula Thomas, 48, had attended the Stonebow Unit at Hereford County Hospital after having thoughts of committing suicide.

Following an assessment she was sent home, so ripped up a memorial plaque and used to it smash the windscreens of four cars in the car park outside knowing that police would have a ‘duty of care’ if she was arrested.

Thomas, of Metcalf Close, Ross-on-Wye, pleaded guilty at Hereford Magistrates Court to criminal damage to four cars, a double glazed window and a memorial plaque.

Amy Davies, prosecuting, said that in the early hours of May 30, the defendant had been brought in voluntarily by ambulance.

“She left after an assessment and it appeared that she wanted further help and was unhappy,” said Mrs Davies.

Thomas walked out and picked up a memorial plaque on a pole and took it outside before committing the damage to the cars.

The plaque, which was in memory of a late member of staff, needed to be replaced.

When interviewed Thomas became upset and apologised but said she was desperate for help and felt she was not receiving it.

Edmund Middleton, mitigating, said that Thomas was a vulnerable woman.

“Because of her concerns she was eager to stay in the Stonebow Unit,” he said.

“Despite her best efforts to impress this she was sent home and told she should get her community nurse to phone them the next day. She felt she had no other choice because of the inadequacies of the mental health provision.”

Magistrates ordered Thomas to pay compensation totalling £125.

In response to the court case a spokesman for the 2Gether NHS Foundation Trust said: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, we work with our partners to provide a responsive and appropriate service to people who are in mental health crisis.

“Every individual who is either referred or seeks our support is assessed by mental health professionals so that we can identify the best treatment and support for them. This may be inpatient treatment or support in the community, dependant on the specific needs or circumstances of any given situation.

“We are always happy to talk with individuals about their experiences, as, if we didn’t get things right, we want to learn from their views so that we can improve our services for them and others in the future.”