Woman jailed for 'frightening' offending

'SCARING CHILDREN': Margaret Mabel Dodds has been jailed for six months.
'SCARING CHILDREN': Margaret Mabel Dodds has been jailed for six months.

A woman banned from just about everywhere in Christchurch has now been jailed for six months for offending that scared children.

Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish told Margaret Mabel Dodds, 58, to stay away from children.

She has already been banned from parks, recreation centres, shopping malls, some streets, public transport, and schools. Notices about her have appeared on social media websites, and on notice boards in school staffrooms.

Judge Farish told Dodds that her offending had been "very frightening for the children".

"You need to stay away from the children."

On the afternoon of March 31, Dodds met a 10-year-old girl on a Cashmere walkway as she rode her scooter home from school with her friend. The girl recognised Dodds from the publicity.

Dodds stepped from side to side on the pathway, blocking the girl.

"Dodds placed her hands on the victim's shoulders and her stomach has pressed up against the victim's body pinning her against a tree. The victim told the defendant that she had to go to ballet. The defendant asked her to show her some ballet moves and released the victim so this could be done," police prosecutor Stewart Sluis said.

As soon as Dodds let the girl go, the 10-year-old scooted off.

On June 5, Dodds blocked the path of a boy walking home from school on Main North Rd. She asked if he wanted a lolly, and offered to walk him home.

The boy ran away, but went back when he saw Dodds had accosted two of his friends. All three boys then ran away and told their parents.

"The three boys were frightened by the defendant's approach and their parents and teachers were extremely alarmed," Sluis said.

Dodds told police she only wanted to speak to the boys and that there was no law saying she could not talk to children.

She admitted charges of assault, disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence, and being unlawfully on properties.

Defence counsel Paul Johnson said Dodds had been publicly "branded by all and sundry and trespassed from everywhere, and banned from public transport".

Dodds had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which was not covered by the Mental Health Act.

Although she lived at the Seager Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital, health authorities could not stop her from leaving if she wished.

A psychiatric nurse at court told Judge Farish that Dodds would eventually to be released from the clinic but "it's not something that's going to happen in the imminent future".

Judge Farish jailed Dodds for six months with post-release conditions for her to undertake counselling or treatment as recommended.

Dodds will continue seeing the prison psychiatrist while she serves the remaining six weeks of her sentence before being released back to the Seager Clinic. She has spent six weeks in custody on remand since being charged. Prisoners normally serve only half of the time of sentences of less than two years.

The Press