A WOMAN tried to steal £50 worth of items from a Clydebank store then launched such a sustained attack on an employee staff had to lock the doors.

Mhairi O’Connell, 33, was confronted about the theft and then erupted into a torrent of abuse.

But, at Dumbarton Sheriff Court, her defence solicitor insisted she has been back to the Farmfoods in Glasgow Road many times since the October 24 incident and gets on well with staff.

At around 7.05pm, O’Connell was seen talking to a member of staff near the till and another employee was told she had been trying to make her way out of the store with £50.86 worth of items.

O’Connell, of Kimberley Street, Clydebank, did make it out of the store but the items were recovered and then there was a confrontation.

Depute fiscal Ian Meacock told the court: “She stood right into the shop worker’s face and attempted to punch him.

“She connected with his shoulder and chest area. The shop worker went to pick up the items and received a kick on the shoulder at that point.

“The accused then followed him as he attempted to walk away and she punched him again to the face, causing his glasses to fall off, and then grabbed his t-shirt causing it to rip at the collar.”

There were further attempts to approach and strike the worker but another customer pulled O’Connell out of the shop.

Mr Meacock added: “The doors were locked to ensure she didn’t get back in.”

Police were called and O’Connell was traced about a month later.

Defence solicitor Lauren Kerr said the incident stemmed from her care for a family member and that caused stress.

But Sheriff Simon Pender asked: “So why did these things cause her to do this?”

Ms Kerr said O’Connell was taking Valium and had mental health issues.

She said the Valium causes her client to “panic and lash out”.

Ms Kerr added: “She did have money to pay for the items. She accepts she shouldn’t have acted in that manner.

“She has been back in the store since and met with both of the individuals and spoken to them and is effectively on good terms with them.”

Sheriff Pender, who was told O’Connell is already under social worker supervision for a charge of reset, said: “If she doesn’t want to return to custody, she needs to stop doing things like this.”

O’Connell was given 300 hours of unpaid work – the maximum number possible.