SCARED staff at a South Tyneside drug and alcohol support charity were forced to press a panic button after an irate client went on a wrecking spree.
Turning Point in Cornwallis Street, South Shields, adopts an ‘open door policy’ – allowing people to pop in for support during working hours.
On December 3 last year, former service user Karen Pigott, 37, called in to seek help over a debt problem.
She was taken into a private room with two members of staff.
Pigott, who has been diagnosed with a severe personality disorder, informed staff she had been asked to repay money to the Benefits Agency.
But the 37-year-old became “irate” and “slightly aggressive” after one adviser telephoned the Benefits Agency with regard to the matter.
She said: “I don’t owe £20,000. If I have to pay, I’ll kill myself. I’ll jump off a cliff.”
Staff tried to return the conversation to the debt issue, but Pigott got more and more angry, at one point saying: “I’m going to kill my mam”.
She then kicked out at a computer table in the room, causing it to fly into the air.
The alarmed advisers pressed a panic button, but couldn’t get out of the room until help arrived.
Pigott, of Bedford Avenue, South Shields, then kicked out again at a keyboard, with a leg on a table it was sitting on snapping off.
She was arrested and admitted criminal damage and causing harassment alarm or distress when she appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
The case was adjourned until March 19 for the preparation of pre-sentence reports.