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Mentally ill woman could be housed back in North Devon

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: February 13, 2013

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A mentally ill woman who threatened a supermarket worker with a knife may be allowed to return to supported housing in North Devon after a psychiatric assessment.

Sharon Denby, 41, spent four months in prison after being arrested in a suicidal state last year in the car park at Morrison’s store in Bideford.

She had been seen wandering around Bideford going into strangers’ homes and acting strangely, sitting down in their living rooms and looking at their personal photographs.

She was held by police after threatening Morrison’s worker Gillian Glover with a knife and asking to be driven to Instow. A taxi driver had seen her with the knife and called the police who disarmed her.

Denby, of Bideford, admitted burglary, having a bladed article, and threatening behaviour at an earlier hearing at Exeter Crown Court in September.

She then spent four months in Eastwood Park Prison because no place could be found for her at a mental hospital and this meant that the necessary psychiatric reports could not be prepared.

She has now been moved to St Andrews Hospital in Northampton, but has still not been seen by psychiatrist Dr Christine Brown, who is based at the Langdon Hospital in Dawlish.

Judge Phillip Wassall adjourned the case for a further hearing in March, by which time it is hoped there will be a psychiatric report which will suggest a treatment plan.

Mr Nigel Wraith, defending, said he was concerned the case was not progressing as it should, despite her finally having been found a place in a hospital.

He said her move to Northampton had isolated her from her parents in North Devon and it would be helpful if she could be treated nearer to her home.

He said: ”I am concerned we are really no further ahead than we were five months ago. That is not a criticism of this court or its staff who have tried very hard to get a report.”

Judge Wassall said: ”Dr Brown is going to see her to assess her and see if she is suitable for supported accommodation in North Devon. The doctor will have to decide if this is appropriate accommodation.

“The court is doing all it can to secure an outcome and I have asked for a report at the earliest date as soon as the doctor has visited her in Northampton.”

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