A WHITEHAVEN woman was violently assaulted and injured as she sat in a deck chair watching a band performing at a rugby club charity concert.

Fifty-year-old Lisa Ackerley, who has past convictions for violence, punched her unsuspecting victim, a 62-year-old local woman, “with all the force she could muster” before dragging her to the ground by her hair and repeatedly kicking her face.

The woman suffered facial swelling and lost two teeth during the unprovoked attack at Kells Rugby Club in Whitehaven last year, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Ackerley admitted an actual bodily harm assault and causing criminal damage to the victim's spectacles. Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson outlined the facts.

He said that the woman knew Ackerley, the mother of a young child, following an incident some time ago which involved dogs owned by both women.

As a result, both the defendant’s dog and the one owned by the assault victim were put down.

There was a degree of bad feeling over that incident, said Mrs Rogerson. The incident had “erupted” on a day over the Christmas period in 2022.

On that day, said Mr Rogerson, the assault victim had been holding a Christmas party at her home when Ackerley arrived, uninvited. The issue with the dogs caused “emotions to rise” and prompted the homeowner to ask Ackerley to leave.

“That was the background,” said Mr Rogerson, who then described the assault on May 6 last year.

The victim recalled how she was sitting in a deck chair on the pitch with other spectators, watching a band performing at the rugby club concert, when Ackerley approached her and asked if she was okay. 

“The defendant did not initially seem aggressive or angry,” said Mr Rogerson. The victim believe she and Ackerley were about to have a conversation.

“Miss Ackerley then said to her: ‘Do you remember Christmas?’ and her tone was angry and more aggressive,” said the prosecutor. “[The victim] said yes.”

At that point, and without warning, Ackerley, punched her in the face.

The attack came out of the blue, said Mr Rogerson. The victim said Ackerley appeared to have used “as much force as she could muster.”

Ackerley then delivered another punch to the face. The initial blow left the woman dazed while the second punch knocked off her spectacles.

Mr Rogerson continued: “Without her glasses and dazed from the punches, [the victim] then grabbed by hair by Miss Ackerley, pulled to the ground, and kicked multiple times to the face, causing further injuries.

"She was left lying on the floor on considerable pain, with injuries and swelling to the face.”

The victim was given first aid at the scene and will need dental treatment because she lost two teeth. Her spectacles will also have to be replaced at a cost of £132.

Mr Rogerson then read from a statement which the victim made after that attack. The violence had aggravated an existing medical condition and made it necessary for her to take pain killer medication.

Her sleep was also disrupted. Fearful that she may bump into Ackerley, she had been left unable to leave home alone.

“I feel trapped in my own home,” said the woman.

The defendant, of Copeland Avenue, Whitehaven, has a record that includes a previous actual bodily harm assault in 2000, as well as a drugs offence in the same year and a wounding offence from 2015 which led to a suspended jail term.

Sean Harkin, defending, said the defendant – who wept through much of the hearing - had previously suffered an assault by a man which led to her being hospitalised.

As a result, she had been taking medication which meant she was not drinking for a significant period, and this had “significantly reduced her tolerance level to alcohol.”

“That perhaps explains her behaviour, taken together with the history,” said Mr Harkin. Her lawyer added: “She’s horrified by her actions.

“She is remorseful, and she wants me to express how sorry she is, most importantly to the victim. She also suffers from adult ADHD, which was recently diagnosed. She is engaging with Recovery Steps… There is a prospect of rehabilitation.”

Recorder Julian Shaw told Ackerley: “This was a completely unprovoked assault on a vulnerable, seated person, who had no opportunity to take evasive action, or to protect herself. In the course of that assault, her glasses were broken…

"She suffered two broken teeth and she was severely affected.”

It has caused the victim to feel almost like a prisoner in her own home.

Yet references handed to the court painted a different picture of Ackerley, who worked to support other people who struggle with their mental health; somebody who is known to be “generous spirited,” friendly and devoted to animals.

“Clearly, drink was a significant factor in your loss of control,” said the judge.

He imposed a 22-month jail term but suspended this for two years. The sentence includes a 12-month mental health treatment requirement, six months of alcohol treatment and 10 rehabilitation activity days.

Ackerly will also be subjected to an electronically monitored eight-month curfew, lasting every day from 8pm to 6.30am. A five-year restraining order bans any contact with the victim and nor must Ackerley go within 50 metres of her address.