Published: 15:00, 17 April 2014
A frail pensioner stabbed her grandson after she became stressed about him living with her and her sick husband, a court heard.
Kathleen Smith confronted Matthew Rothwell as he was watching a film at her East Malling home and knifed him in the centre of his dove tattoo on his right arm.
The 66-year-old admitted the offence and was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years.
A judge wanted to impose a condition of anger management but was told by a probation officer that Smith did not meet the criteria for an accredited Home Office programme.
“It cries out for probation intervention,” said Judge Martin Joy.
“This is protection of the public. It does seem surprising someone has got to commit more than one offence before they qualify for anger management.”
Maidstone Crown Court heard the 19-year-old grandson had moved in with Smith and her husband Malcolm in Cobbett Close in October last year after he was ejected from his parents’ home.
After about two weeks Smith rowed with the teenager and he then believed she wanted him to leave.
On the day of the attack, he had been out to get a takeaway and asked her not to lock the door, but when he returned the chain had been put on it.
He contacted Smith’s adopted son Toby Smith, 22, to let him in. He went upstairs to Mr Smith’s room. Smith followed, complaining the door had been broken.
“He said she was angry and drunk,” said prosecutor Trevor Wright.
“She was wobbly and unsteady on her feet. He suggested she was an alcoholic. There was a verbal exchange.
“She went back downstairs. Matthew Rothwell was sitting on the bed watching a film. Toby said: ‘Matt, move.’ He didn’t move fast enough. He was stabbed in his lower right arm by his grandmother.”
He was taken to hospital and found to have a 2.5cm by 5mm cut which needed four stitches.
Mr Wright said when Smith was arrested she appeared fragile and kept repeating she was sorry.
Judge Joy ordered 12 months supervision and said he hoped Smith would be “supervised in relation to anger management”.
Christina Rowberry, defending, said Smith was aware the injury could have been far worse. A probation report presented a bleak impression of her.
She and her husband had taken in Matthew because he had fallen out with his parents, but they expected it to be for a short period.
Smith’s husband had been heavily dependent on her for 10 years and she was also in poor health with difficulty in walking, a heart condition and chronic asthma.
“This was an isolated incident brought about by the stress of having a further mouth to feed and contributed to an increase in bills,” said Miss Rowberry.
“There would be very little benefit to her receiving a custodial sentence. The incident is wholly out of character. The public would better served by a suspended sentence with the assistance of probation.”
Judge Joy told Smith the offence was extremely serious - “namely the stabbing of your grandson with a knife”.
The prosecution put it into the category of “lesser harm”, but it was clearly a significant wound, said the judge.
“On the other hand, it is plainly higher culpability,” he continued. “There was use of a weapon. Only you can know what your true intention was.
“The probation report sets out that you are plainly a woman with anger management problems. You are on a short fuse.
“It is said you pose a realistic risk of harm to known adults including family members. It is said to be not an imminent risk. I find that reasoning hard to follow" - Judge Martin Joy
“It is said you pose a realistic risk of harm to known adults including family members. It is said to be not an imminent risk. I find that reasoning hard to follow.
“It is said your husband is at risk, albeit he lives with you and you have not, in fact, committed any offences in relation to him.
“It recommended you learn techniques to deal with conflict - in other words anger management. I can’t pass such a sentence, which I would do.
“I am told by a senior probation officer if I do, such a sentence would be rejected by those who carry it out. I am told a period of supervision will be beneficial.
“There will be some management techniques to control the risk you plainly present. I hope very much you are supervised in relation to anger management.”