Woman admitted to breaking nurse's tooth at South Tyneside District Hospital after having 'a bit of a paddy'

A woman has admitted breaking a nurse’s tooth by hitting her in the face with a plastic thermometer she angrily swiped from a desk at South Tyneside District Hospital’s A&E department.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

Tracey Ritchie’s actions at South Tyneside District Hospital on April 22, left the nurse with damage to a crown and feeling like she “had knocked my teeth out”, a court was told.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard that the offence happened when Ritchie had ‘a bit of a paddy’.

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The court heard Ritchie, 36, formerly of Lord Nelson Street, South Shields, had a borderline personality disorder and lashed out because she had failed to take medication to counter her condition.

Although Ritchie made protestations to police that she had never done anything like it before, the magistrates court heard she carried out a second attack on a 999 worker just days later.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “She accepts that her actions caused the injury. It’s a thermometer that hits the nurse in the mouth.

“She doesn’t accept that she does it deliberately. She swipes it off a bench, it dislodges a cap in one of the teeth.

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“It has happened on the morning of April 22. Another member of staff is talking to the defendant, she’s a frequent user of the A&E department.

“She argues with a member of staff, and the nurses ask her to sit down and stop swearing. She swipes the thermometer.

“There is pain to her teeth and jaw and one cap to a tooth has dislodged. The nurse says the defendant hit the thermometer across the room with force.

“The defendant said, ‘I think I went into a bit of a paddy. I didn’t go out of my way to do it. It was spur of the moment. I would never hurt a nurse, I was reckless’. She also has a caution for a self-same offence.

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“The nurse says in her statement that she felt immediate pain, saying, ‘I thought she had knocked my teeth out. I didn’t return to A&E until she had gone’."

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Ms Gordon said: “No-one’s got any right to assault me. I’m annoyed this has happened. She picked it up and threw it towards me.”

The court was told Ritchie, who has now moved from South Tyneside but whose new address was not disclosed, has 16 previous convictions from 43 offences.

Sophie Cohen, defending, said: “She accepts this was a reckless act. She has a borderline personality disorder.

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“She goes to A&E for help, she is feeling very unwell. She accepts that she was wrong to swipe at the thermometer.

“This has arisen because of a lack of meditation. There’s no premeditation. She struck out in this manner in frustration. It’s not an intentional strike, it’s a reckless strike.”

The case against Ritchie, who pleaded guilty to beating an emergency worker, was stood down to February 26 at the same court for the preparation of a Probation Service report.