A DARLINGTON woman damaged and stole from an ambulance while paramedics were busy treating a patient, a court heard.

Amy Joanne Kelly, of Corporation Road, went on to assault a police woman while fleeing from the scene of the incident on January 16.

The 23-year-old, who suffers from a mental illness, pleaded guilty to criminal damage, theft from a motor vehicle and assaulting a police officer at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on Friday (January 18).

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Blair Martin, prosecuting, said a woman was seen rummaging around inside the cab of the ambulance, while paramedics were treating a patient believed to have overdosed in Darlington.

When they returned to the vehicle, the crew found a window had been smashed and the radio was broken. A description of the woman and her dog were passed on to the police, who matched it to Kelly.

“A police officer chases after the defendant,” said Mr Martin. “The dog is barking and Miss Kelly is shouting and smells of drink.

"The pair end up on the floor and the defendant kicks out at the police officer and manages to slip out of handcuffs on two occasions.”

Mr Martin said the female officer, who was left with cuts and grazes on her fingers, knees and the palms of her hands, eventually resorted to pepper spray to end the “violent struggle".

Kelly was found in possession of a torch and glass hammer belonging to the North East Ambulance Service.

Graham Hunsley, mitigating, said Kelly had little recollection of the incident but remembered being taken by surprise when grabbed by the officer.

“We have got two problems here,” he said. “One is a mental health illness that has been diagnosed and is well documented and the other is a drink problem that has been building up for some time.”

At the same hearing, Kelly admitted stealing £15-worth of food items from Sainsbury’s in Darlington on December 2 and a £4.59 pack of John Smiths bitter from the same store on December 5.

Guilty pleas were also entered for the charges of breaching the terms of a community order, failing to attend court hearings at Darlington Magistrates' Court on December 20 and January 10 and breaching the terms of a conditional discharge, which was imposed last September for an offence of assault.

She was sentenced to 12 months probation supervision and was ordered to pay £29.59 compensation and a £60 victim’s surcharge.