A beautician who blinded a woman in a hammer attack in the Shankill area of Belfast was handed an eight-year sentence on Friday.
Samantha Goldring, 36, was found guilty by a jury last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. The injured party - who is in her 20s and from the local area - lost the sight in her left eye after she was struck in the face by a hammer-wielding Goldring during an altercation on Saturday, April 8 last year.
The damaged eye is being replaced with an artificial eye, and has left the young woman with “obvious difficulties for the rest of her life.”
Goldring, who is originally from Essex and whose address was given as Tynan Drive in Newtownabbey, claimed she was acting in self-defence after the injured party called at her door on two occasions on the day and evening in question.
However, she was convicted by the jury of both causing the other woman’s injuries and of possessing a weapon with intent.
Handing Goldring an eight-year sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC told the beautician she will serve four years in prison, followed by a further four years on licence.
Accepted there was “some degree of provocation”, Judge Kerr told Goldring: “Instead of reacting in an appropriate and proper way, you armed youself with a hammer, engaged with her and hit her at least three to four times, causing horrific injuries.”
Judge Kerr also spoke of the lasting impact upon the injured party, including her suffering “severe social embarrassment in terms of feelings about the cosmetic effects.”
The court heard Goldring admitted causing the injuries from the outset, but said she was acting in self-defence and only used the hammer to stop the other woman attacking her.
However, when she was called to give evidence during the trial, the injured party claimed Golding came at her with the weapon after she called at Goldring’s then home at Enfield Street looking for her boyfriend.
The first time she called at Goldring’s home on the afternoon of April 8, she tried to push her way into the property. On the second occasion, she threw a magnet and smashed the living room window.
She told the jury that at this point, Goldring ran out of the house with a hammer in her hand and attacked her. She said: “I just had a moment of madness. There was a magnet in my pocket. I threw it and put the wee girl’s windows in. She came flying out like a psycho. I didn’t realise she had a hammer in her hand at the time. It was quite a small hammer and I felt a couple of blows to the head, but I didn’t go down.
“She came out of the house and ran at me. I thought it was just going to be a fist fight, so I thought ‘right, come on then.’ She got me first, she had the hammer. I think I had her by the hair or something. I felt the blow to the head but I didn’t know what it was at the time.”
She sustained several blows and can recall being hit “right in the eyeball”, above her eyebrow and along the side of her head.
The altercation ended when the injured woman’s then boyfriend - who had been drinking and taking cocaine with Goldring - ran into the street and intervened. While the injured woman was taken to hospital, Golding was arrested.
When she gave evidence at the trial, Goldring said she used the hammer in self defence during a “frenzied attack” by a “crazy girl”.
Claiming she had the hammer in her hand as she was fixing a skirting board, Golding told the jury going out onto the street after her window was smashed was “human nature” but “the worst decision I ever made”.
Goldring said she walked into the street, saw the same women who had been at her door earlier and shouted down the street “did you just smash my f***ing window? What’s your problem? Why are you doing this to me?” She also claimed that she walked towards her, the other woman came at her “like a Tasmanian Devil ... she wasn’t normal.”
Saying she was subjected to a “frenzied attack”, Goldring said: “She carried on beating me. My fingers ended up in her mouth and she bit down on them and she wouldn’t let go. She was trying to bite my fingers off so I hit her with the hammer.”
Goldring admitted striking several blow and later told police “I wish I hadn’t done that to her. I wish I could swap places with her. I’m sorry.”
During today’s sentencing, a barrister for Goldring said the incident was not pre-meditated, but rather it was “someone who snapped.” Saying his client had been subjected to “a degree of provocation”, the barrister said she had displayed remorse for causing the other woman’s injuries.
The barrister also spoke of Goldring’s unstable and traumatic childhood, “a host of physical and mental issues”, and a “long history of alcohol and drug abuse”.