NHS nurse, 47, glassed man after downing bottle of wine and four gins

NHS nurse, 47, glassed man in face after downing bottle of wine and four gins on first night out after lockdown when she had turned to drink to battle stress of 12-hour A&E shifts

  • Rebecca Prior was on night out with friends when she lunged at Charles Cocklin
  • 47-year-old A&E nurse believed she saw victim touch her friend inappropriately
  • Prior, who was ‘nine out of 10 drunk’ at the time, was wrestled out of the club
  • She pleaded guilty to one count of inflicting actual bodily harm at court 
  • An NHS nurse who smashed her glass into a man’s face after downing a bottle of wine and four gins on the first night after lockdown has been spared jail.

    Rebecca Prior, 47, had been on a night out with friends when she lunged at victim Charles Cocklin with a full gin glass in Canvas nightclub in Bournemouth, Dorset, last September.

    The A&E nurse believed she saw Mr Cocklin touch her friend inappropriately while they were chatting at the bar and told him to stop before attacking him. 

    CCTV footage of the incident shows how the victim stumbled backwards from the blow. He suffered multiple cuts to his face and lips but did not require hospital treatment.

    Prior, who was ‘nine out of 10 drunk’ at the time, was wrestled out of the club by a bouncer and arrested by police.

    She pleaded guilty to one count of inflicting actual bodily harm and was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court. 

    Judge William Mousley QC sentenced Prior to an 18 month community order which includes 180 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation activity.

    In addition she was fined a total of £700, including £300 in compensation and £400 in court costs.

    A court heard Prior suffered from extreme stress as a result of working 12 hour shifts throughout the pandemic and ‘turned to alcohol’.

    Rebecca Prior, 47, (Pictured) had been on a night out with friends when she lunged at victim Charles Cocklin with a full gin glass in Canvas nightclub in Bournemouth, Dorset, last September.

    Rebecca Prior, 47, (Pictured) had been on a night out with friends when she lunged at victim Charles Cocklin with a full gin glass in Canvas nightclub in Bournemouth, Dorset, last September.

    On the night of the attack, which was her first night out after lockdown restrictions were dropped, Prior had drank a bottle of wine and four gins.

    Russell Pyne, prosecuting, said the attack was ‘shameful and irrational’.

    He added: ‘The victim, Charles Cocklin, was talking to three females – the defendant and her two friends.

    ‘He had some interaction with one of the group earlier and got on with her. He was having a friendly conversation with the three of them.

    ‘It appears that the defendant rightly or wrongly thought that Mr Cocklin had touched a friend of hers.

    ‘She was heard to say that he should not have touched her friend.

    ‘After a period of altercation between them she thrust a gin glass she was holding with considerable force at his face.

    ‘The glass broke and Mr Cocklin suffered multiple cuts to his face.

    ‘She was heard to say repeatedly that the man had been touching her friend.

    ‘The defendant in interview was candid and admitted to the assault. She said she had drunk a bottle of wine and three or four glasses of gin.’

    Malcolm Gibney, mitigating, described the assault as an ‘episode of shame.’

    He said: ‘She is a single mother who except for one isolated incident as a teenager has led a blameless and positive life.

    ‘She is a nurse in A&E. Her testimonials speak to her value as a colleague. Any custodial sentence would be career threatening because of the guidelines set down by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

    A court heard Prior (pictured) suffered from extreme stress as a result of working 12 hour shifts throughout the pandemic and 'turned to alcohol'

    A court heard Prior (pictured) suffered from extreme stress as a result of working 12 hour shifts throughout the pandemic and ‘turned to alcohol’

    ‘The public has benefited greatly from her service especially in the last two years which have been the most stressful of her working life.

    ‘It was the first night she had been out socially since the pandemic. Working 12 hour shifts led to anxiety and a dependency on alcohol.

    ‘She found herself drinking far too much – those actions have altered her life and that of Mr Cocklin.

    ‘The video does in fact show Mr Cocklin being persistent with her friend and putting his hand on her.

    ‘The defendant is a victim of domestic abuse and sexual assault. She wholly irrationally believed her friend was being abused and lashed out.

    ‘This is something that that was demonstrably out of character’.

    Judge William Mousley QC sentenced Prior to an 18 month community order which includes 180 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation activity at Bournemouth Crown Court (file image)

    Judge William Mousley QC sentenced Prior to an 18 month community order which includes 180 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation activity at Bournemouth Crown Court (file image)

    Judge Mousley said: ‘You thought wrongly that he had made inappropriate contact with one of your friends. There was then a brief altercation between you and him.

    ‘You thrust a glass into his face which had a drink in it with some force.

    ‘You were working as an accident and emergency nurse at a high level. You had to make significant personal sacrifices to carry out that work in the pandemic, including putting yourself at risk. You were suffering from some anxiety at the time.

    ‘You are the full carer of your daughter and you are taking steps to address the triggers for your unacceptable and grim behavior that night’.

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