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Mentally ill woman went on crime spree

By WMNAGreenwood  |  Posted: December 06, 2013

Mentally ill woman went on crime spree
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A Devon woman who went on a bizarre crime spree after suffering a bout of mental illness has been freed from jail.

Trudi Wardman stole clothes from a country house where she had been at a party, broke into a car, and terrified a neighbour by launching a knife attack on her car.

She has spent five months in jail on remand since being arrested in Uffculme in June. A judge ruled that she has spent long enough behind bars and freed her.

Wardman, 34, has a psychiatric history and was suffering from a recurrence of mental illness when she committed all the offences, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Her trail of crime started after she went to a party at a house at Butterleigh, near Tiverton, and returned in the middle of the night to steal clothes belonging to the owner of the property.

It ended with her arrest after she left her home with a kitchen knife and a can of white paint and vandalised neighbour Penny Smith’s car before grabbing her around the neck.

Wardman, of Ayshford, near Uffculme, Mid Devon, admitted burglary, theft, criminal damage, assault by beating and having a knife in a public place.

She was ordered to receive 18 months supervision under a community order by Judge Geoffrey Mercer. He made a restraining order restricting her contact with Penny Smith.

He told her:”You are a woman of good character who had never been in trouble before and had a very responsible job for a number of years but are her for sentence for a number of offences committed over eight days in June this year.

“They are serious matters, as you know only too well but it is clear from all I have read about you that you acted totally out of character and the psychiatric report indicates your mental state was affected at the relevant time. You were not yourself.

“You have been in custody for 23 weeks so any further prison sentence would be wholly inappropriate.”

Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said the offences started on June 22 when Wardman returned to a house at Butterleigh where she had been at a party.

She broke in and put on the clothes the hostess had been wearing before packing others into a suitcase and leaving. Eight days later she vandalised the car at Uffculme and attacked her neighbour.

He asked for the destruction of the 30cm carving knife which she used to scratch her neighbour’s car and slash the tryes.

Adrian Chaplin, defending, said Miss Smith is no longer a neighbour and it is hoped there will be minimal contact between the two women in the future.

He said an psychiatric report explained the mental background to the offences, which are likely to affect Wardman’s work because she may be subject to barring.

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