A Chester woman was hit in the head with an ice skate in an unprovoked attack because she was smoking, a court heard.
Jemma Fitzgerald suffered a fractured skull and had brain surgery after she was targeted by university drop-out Natasha Welsh.
Welsh, 28, walked free from court last week because she suffers from Asperger syndrome and does not like people smoking.
Judge, Mr Recorder Wyn Lloyd Jones said he was taking an “exceptional course” because of the “obvious” problems she had.
The court heard both women, who were strangers, were near the ice rink at Deeside Leisure Centre, Shotton when Welsh pounced.
Without warning she swung her bag at Jemma, 20, from behind and the uncovered blade of her ice skate hit her in the head.
Fragments of bone were later removed from her brain during delicate surgery at Walton Hospital.
Jemma was left weak to one side of her body, with stiffness in her legs and psychological problems.
Welsh from Bootle, Liverpool admitted a grievous bodily harm charge following the attack in September.
The judge, Mr Recorder Wyn Lloyd Jones, gave her a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years with supervision and support from mental health services.
He said nothing would be achieved by sending her to prison and society would be far better served if she was given assistance.
Mr Recorder Wyn Lloyd Jones said: “This is a dreadfully sad case.”
The court heard Welsh didn’t like people smoking because her former partner and mother’s partner did so.
Prosecutor David Mainstone said at 7.15 pm on September 17 last year Jemma was walking to a boxing club in Health Street in Shotton and the defendant was walking the other way.
Mr Mainstone said: “The defendant was carrying a blue ice skating bag and without warning she took the bag off her shoulder, walked up to her and swung it with both hands.”
While her victim sat bleeding on the ground, Welsh walked away.
The attack was witnessed by a number of young teenage boys and one alerted his father who called an ambulance.
The father then chased the defendant and tried to make a citizens’ arrest but she screamed and went into a shop.
He told staff to call the police and waited outside.
Officers arrested Welsh in the store and later during interview she claimed it had been an accident.
Intolerance for smokers
Kim Halsall, defending, said while a weapon had been used the ice skate had not been used directly.
She said Welsh swung the bag intending to hit Jemma on the shoulder.
The court heard Welsh was diagnosed with autism at the age of five, had a happy childhood, excelled academically, had taught herself to speak Japanese.
But she dropped out of university because she was unable to cope and then lost her job because of her condition.
In 2010 she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and was under the care of a psychologist.
Miss Halsall said at the time of the attack Welsh was frustrated not having a job, felt unfulfilled and socially isolated.
She said: “She developed intolerance to people who smoke as a result of her experiences with her former partner and her mother’s partner.”