A woman glassed her best friend during a boozy night in after they had been ‘swilling’ wine at each other for ‘a laugh and a joke’.
Lara Hall, 21, went to the police saying pal Sarah Reilly deliberately ‘smashed’ the glass in her face before jabbing its broken stem into her nose for ‘no reason’.
But Reilly, 20, insisted the blow was ‘definitely an accident’, telling Liverpool Crown Court she had only struck Ms Hall once unintentionally while unable to see properly because of the rosé in her eyes.
She admitted a charge of wounding on the basis Ms Hall had thrown a drink at her first, which she ‘took as a joke’ and ‘instinctively responded’ by going to chuck hers back.
Prosecutor Paul Blasbery told the court Reilly accepted her glass hit Ms Hall, but added that she claimed to have only meant to throw its contents.
The judge said Reilly’s plea was entered ‘on the basis of recklessness’, claiming the incident was ‘very close to being an accident’.
But prosecutors rejected the basis, submitting that it had been a ‘deliberate and unprovoked attack’.
Both women gave evidence at a subsequent Newton Hearing, which is held before a judge without a jury to resolve factual issues between the prosecution and defence.
The court heard the pair were drinking at Ms Hall’s home in St Helens, with friends at around 3.30am on October 29 last year.
Ms Hall, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said she went and sat next to Reilly after coming back from having a cigarette.
She said, ‘I turned round to look at her and she smashed a wine glass in my face’, adding: ‘I had to look down and pick the glass out of my eye.’
Ms Hall added: ‘As I opened my eyes, all I saw was the stem of the wine glass then coming towards my face into my nose.’
She told the court Reilly didn’t say anything before glassing her.
When cross-examined by Reilly’s lawyer, the victim denied they had been swilling drinks on each other for a ‘laugh and a joke’ and that she first ‘swilled’ Reilly with rosé.
Defending, Carmel Wilde suggested: ‘As she closed her eyes as a result of the wine going in her eyes, she then went to swill you back as part of the fun if you like.’
She added: ‘And as she threw the drink back at you, the glass smashed in your face accidentally.’
But Ms Hall said: ‘No, that’s not what happened at all.’
She suffered several ‘superficial’ wounds to her forehead and nose, the court heard.
Ms Wilde suggested that if Reilly had ‘jabbed’ the broken glass at her in the way she alleged, she would have received cuts more akin to ‘slash marks’.
The judge, Neil Flewitt QC, asked Ms Hall if there was ‘any reason, anything that happened that evening’ that might have made Reilly do ‘such an awful thing’ to her.
Ms Hall replied: ‘No, no reason at all.’
Reilly, from St Helens, told police and the court that it had been an ‘accident’, saying her eyes were ‘stinging’ after Ms Hall swilled her with a drink.
She said: ‘I went to swill her back, she came towards me at the same time, obviously I couldn’t see, so my glass has collided with her face.’
Reilly denied any second thrust of the glass and said: ‘I just kept apologising and asking if she was okay and telling her that I didn’t mean it.’
She said Ms Hall had ‘made up’ her version of events, telling the court: ‘Maybe it was her family, maybe it was the seriousness of the injuries, I don’t know.’
Reilly added: ‘It was definitely an accident.’
The judge said he could not be sure the incident unfolded in the way Ms Hall alleged and ruled in favour of Reilly.
He said: ‘If the prosecution version is correct, this was apparently a motiveless attack, by one best friend on another.’
Ms Wilde said Reilly was of previous good character, had a two-year-old child and worked in the care industry.
Judge Flewitt said: ‘I hope her employer, A, takes account of my ruling and, B, takes account of my observation that this is quite close to being an accident.’
He told Reilly: ‘If I had thought or I had been sure that you had behaved as Lara Hall said and deliberately thrust that glass twice into her face, you would be going to prison.’
Judge Flewitt added: ‘You’ve lost that friendship; you’ve had to go through the process of appearing before this court and faced the risk of going to prison.
‘I hope you’ve learned a lesson from that, and we won’t see you again.’
He gave her an 18-month community order, with a 20-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 80 hours of unpaid work.
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