A POWYS woman celebrated her birthday by being arrested after dishing out anti-Welsh abuse at and assaulting a neighbour because she’d been accused of having a mid-lockdown party.

English Kirsty Ann Laheney – now known as Mullinder – swore at her neighbours, with anti-Welsh insults, and confronted them outside their Builth Wells homes on May 27 last year after she’d been paid a visit by the police investigating Covid-19 breaches in relation to public gatherings.

Mullinder, who police decided had not broken lockdown rules, hit one woman in the face, cutting her nose and breaking her glasses. The incident occurred the day after she’d celebrated her 34th birthday, and came after police had been to her house over reports of a lockdown breach – which they left satisfied that no breach had occurred.

She initially denied a total of six charges but admitted racially aggravated assault and racially aggravated criminal damage on the morning of her scheduled trial at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, February 10. No evidence was offered in relation to four other charges.

Prosecutor Chelsea Deak said police were called to Mullinder’s home at Cwrt-y-Castell on May 27, initially as a response to alleged Covid breaches.

“The defendant’s belief is that her neighbours contacted the police,” said Ms Deak.

“One of the victims says she was approached by the defendant, who is not known to her, and hit by surprise with a left hand to the side of the face which caused a slight cut to her nose, which bled, and broke her glasses.

“The other victim also heard the insult and heard the defendant say ‘I’m Geordie, I’ll get someone down to smash your head in and smash your windows in’. Another witness heard a slap and contacted the police.”

One victim said she’d been left “distressed” by the incident, while the other has been “scared to go out in my street”.

Ms Deak said Mullinder’s previous record included 12 convictions for 21 offences, and that she was subject to a community order for battery offences when this offence occurred.

Probation officer Jo Cox, who provided a pre-sentence report, described Mullinder as someone who “has been known to react violently” in the past.

Ms Cox said: “She is the first to agree that in the past when she has had alcohol she is unable to control her temper, her emotions get the better of her and she has been known to react violently, and this happened on this occasion.

“It was her birthday the day before this offence and she had been celebrating in her garden. She was under the impression her neighbours had phoned the police on her about a breach of Covid regulations and that she was having a party in the garden.

“The police attended and found only she and her partner there, clearly not breaching conditions and they went away satisfied. But she wasn’t happy and believed the neighbours had phoned the police unnecessarily and reacted.

“At the time she was out of work and tends to drink more when she’s not employed. She has definitely calmed down since, has found work in a burger factory and is in a much more stable relationship.”

Acting for Mullinder, Owain Jones said there had been no further incidents since last May.

He said: “It began quite politely but became confrontational. She was referred to as a Geordie and it culminated in her pushing the victim to the face and breaking her glasses. It was a brief and impulsive act.”

“She is disappointed in herself because the idea of moving to Wales was for a fresh start and now that’s been scuppered. I’ve submitted a character reference from her employers, she’s described as an exemplary employee.

“She is also a carer for her partner, who is awaiting a hip replacement. He requires help changing and getting about.”

Magistrates labelled it an “unpleasant and uncalled for event” that Mullinder “overreacted to”.

She was given a 12-month community order, which includes 10 rehabilitation activity days and 90 hours’ unpaid work.

She must pay £125 compensation for the broken glasses, another £100 compensation for the assault and a contribution towards costs of £300 and a £95 surcharge. Both victims were also granted 12-month restraining orders and Mullinder is prohibited from contacting either by any means.