A JUDGE has expressed concern that a mentally ill woman is being held in jail because the Prison Service cannot find her a place at a mental hospital.
Sharon Denby, aged 41, is still awaiting sentence for threatening a supermarket worker with a knife in the car park of a store in Bideford.
She is likely to be sent for treatment under a hospital order but this cannot be done until she is assessed, and that can only be done in a hospital.
Judge John Neligan adjourned her case until later this month but called for regular updates from Eastwood Park Prison in Bristol about when she can be moved.
He said: "The problem is that the prison cannot find a suitable place for her.
"They say it could take up to four months, which is unacceptable, so I shall review the situation on a two-weekly basis.
"It is a bleak picture. In a worst case scenario she might end up in a hospital in the North of England. It is unfortunate but one has to take what is available.
"It is a bleak position but it is a sign of the times."
Gareth Evans, defending, said Denby's parents had travelled to Exeter from their homes in London hoping the case would be dealt with but had been disappointed.
In a hearing in September Denby, of Hill Garden Close, Bideford, admitted burglary, having a bladed article, and threatening behaviour.
She is accused of stealing a knife from a house in Fordlands Crescent, Bideford, and using it to threaten Morrison's worker Gillian Glover.
Denby approached her in the car park of the store and demanded to be driven to Instow. The knife, which had a three-inch serrated blade, was not used and the victim was not hurt.
She was arrested at the scene in a suicidal state after police were called by a taxi driver who spotted her with a knife in the Morrison's car park.
She later told police she was suffering from mental health issues which led her to enter other people's property and look at pictures on their walls.