MAGISTRATES have explained why they did not jail a drunk woman who appeared naked in a retirement home garden and made knife threats.

As previously reported, Hayley Hope had been living at Lincoln Green, off Liverpool Road in Ronkswood, Worcester when she made the threats and a few days later was seen naked by residents, one of whom called police.

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The 56-year-old, who has mental health problems, admitted exposure and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour when she appeared before Worcester magistrates on Thursday.

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However, despite being in breach of two suspended sentence orders, magistrates decided not to jail her, choosing instead to defer sentence while she gets help by support agencies and the probation service. The bench had already been told that the defendant had issues with alcohol and mental health problems, specifically borderline personality disorder.

Philip Newton, the chairman of the bench, said: "As I said before, the starting point when you breach a suspended sentence is to be sent to prison. You have been given one last chance not to go to prison. You would have been given a very strong warning that if you did commit another offence you would be going to prison. We're quite uncomfortable if we didn't do that. But we have to look as a whole at the interests of justice and what would be right in the longer term for society and for yourself so this doesn't happen again. You can't keep on doing this."

In deferring, Mr Newton said this was 'to see whether you comply and will get the help and will really try to get yourself out of the alcoholism and get yourself better so that you don't commit these crimes'.

"Deferring sentence isn't something which is normally done" he said.

An injunction order secured by Platform Housing in August prohibits her from causing a nuisance to residents. She is now also banned from returning to Lincoln Green.

The offences were committed in breach of two suspended sentence orders. One order of 12 weeks in custody suspended for 12 months was imposed on August 9 for being drunk and disorderly and two offences of failing to surrender to custody.

The other order, also for 12 weeks suspended for 12 months, was imposed on June 18 this year for racially/religiously aggravated harassment.

Ralph Robyns-Landricombe, prosecuting, said on September 4 this year Hope was asked to turn her music down by her neighbour.

"She became abusive and stated 'I'm going to hit you' and 'I will knife you'. This has caused the woman to become fearful," said the prosecutor.

Another resident stood between the woman and the defendant and instructed Hope to 'go home' which she did.

On September 7 this year the same neighbour again called police. "Hope was outside her property in the communal garden and she was completely naked and shouting," said the prosecutor.

Hope, now of Chester Road North in Kidderminster, will be sentenced on January 17 next year.