A POWYS woman has been jailed for 16 months after committing “seven months of mayhem” across North and Mid Wales.

Mold Crown Court heard how Maria Beth Stephens, 49, of Llys Nant, Llanidloes, was “clearly in crisis” during four separate incidents, including causing criminal damage and possessing a bladed article in a public place.

The first offence dates back to New Year’s Day, when staff working in the Weatherspoon’s pub in Aberystwyth became concerned about Stephens, who had been drinking in the pub since around 10am. After leaving the premises at around 2pm, she returned half an hour later and ordered some food and a soft drink, but not long afterwards, became abusive to bar staff, before she headed out of wooden doors, into the beer garden.

County Times: The Weatherspoon's pub at Aberystwyth where Maria Beth Stephens, from Llanidloes, was abusive to staff while carrying a knife. Picture: Google Street ViewThe Weatherspoon's pub at Aberystwyth where Maria Beth Stephens, from Llanidloes, was abusive to staff while carrying a knife. Picture: Google Street View

When she was confronted by the manager, she was shouting and swearing when he noticed she had a wooden handled knife with a three inch blade in her right hand. The manager and another member of staff managed to restrain and disarm Stephens, who continued to swear and be abusive, despite the presence of families and young children. She told the men she had another knife in her possession and after the police were called she was arrested and during a police interview, told them that she had just the one knife and that her behaviour had “spiralled out of control”.

Mark Conner, prosecuting, said Stephens had been bailed following this incident but at around 7pm on March 12, police were called to Alexandra Road in Aberystwyth, where she had been seen jumping in front of cars, before she threw herself on to the bonnet of a red Kia. She shouted at the driver “You’re going to f*****g kill me!” before she snapped off one of the front window wipers and began hitting the car with it.

When police arrived on the scene, Stephens was holding on to the bonnet of a white van and was taken to the A&E department of Bronglais Hospital as they were concerned about her mental health. While at the hospital, she continued to swear and be abusive and when asked by a nurse if she had any allergies, she replied “yes, the f*****g police!”

Less than one month later, on April 7, Stephens sent her ex-partner an extremely abusive text message, which included telling him to “go and look at your front door” and when he returned home, found that a pain of the glass in the door had been completely smashed. Later that evening, when police went to her home to arrest her, she lunged at officers with what they at the time believed to be a pair of scissors.

When they asked her what she had in her possession, she told officers they weren’t scissors, but were in fact two knives, which resulted in one of the officers withdrawing his taser and warning her to drop them. She goaded the officer carrying the taser, shouting “Go on, f*****g do it!” before he had to deploy the weapon after Stephens had thrown the knives in their direction.

In the most recent incident on July 15, Stephens had thrown a lit piece of paper threw the cat flap of a neighbours house, who she had accused of owing her money. The neighbour had agreed to borrow £150 from her to pay for a train to London, which he said he had been very thankful for, but that he couldn’t pay her back when she demanding it a couple of weeks later.

After an argument through the letterbox, Stephens returned to throw a lit piece of paper through the cat flap and was heard shouting “You want fire!” as the curtain on the inside of the front door caught alight, which the neighbour had to quickly take off the rail and throw outside his home. Stephens did however return with a pan of water from her own house and helped her neighbour put out the fire, telling him the debt was now cleared.

Defence barrister Oliver King, told the court that this was a very sad case and how his client and never been in any trouble with the law prior to committing these offences. He said how a serious assault on her in 2017 had led to her suffering from mental health problems, and how she started drinking in an attempt to mask these issues.

Mr King went on to say how the reports of two psychologists had shown evidence that Stephens was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and it was “obvious she was in crisis”.

His Honour Judge Niclas Parry said that he had read the two psychology reports and was satisfied the incidents carried out were clearly out of character and that he would not be considering any kind of hospital order.

He told her: “You have caused seven months of mayhem across North and Mid Wales.

“All of these incidents are drink related and involved people trying desperately hard to help you, but you ended up abusing those people.

“It is worrying that you resorted to using knives and here in North Wales at least, possessing and brandishing knives in a public place means immediate custody.”

Stephens was sentenced to two months for possessing a blade on January 1, four months for the criminal damage on April 7 and 10 months for the arson on July 15, which will run consecutively, meaning a total of 16 months.

Judge Parry added: “There is every reason to believe that custody will help you.”