A woman who stripped naked outside Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital at the weekend may have done so as a “cry for help”, a court has been told.
Magistrates heard the case was the seventh similar incident involving Linda Deane in the past two months.
But the 56-year-old avoided another spell in prison after the bench voiced concerns about whether it was appropriate to jail her again.
Deane, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to one charge of outraging public decency when she appeared in court in Lynn on Monday morning.
Although she was ordered to be detained in the courthouse for the day, Deane was released after the hearing, as that period was deemed to be served by the time she had already spent in custody following her arrest.
The court heard a security guard had seen her outside the hospital’s accident and emergency unit at around 9.20am on Saturday when she removed her dress and discarded it.
She was then seen “hopping around” near a hospital sign in full view of members of the public.
Fergus Harold, prosecuting, said staff escorted her inside the building and into a bay out of the view of other people.
However, they were then forced to put a screen up until police arrived after she refused to remain there.
Following her arrest, Deane was taken to the nearby Fermoy unit, where an assessment concluded she did have mental capacity.
She was subsequently held in custody until her court appearance.
Mr Harold said Deane had been involved in two separate cases of exposure and four of outraging public decency since late June prior to this one.
Although other cases had taken place in the streets and at the University of East Anglia, he said it was “clearly of concern” that this case had happened at a hospital.
George Sorrell, mitigating, said that, in order to detain her, the arresting police officer had been “forced” to section Deane under the Mental Health Act and had taken her to the Fermoy unit as he believed she did not have the capacity to make rational decisions.
He said his client was homeless, had no income and no job and argued her circumstances, rather than any suggestion of gaining gratification from her behaviour, may have led to her offending.
He said: “This is a person who has come across very hard times. It may be a cry for help in that sense.”
However, the court was told that Deane had not engaged with previous offers of professional support.
There was no order imposed for costs or a victim surcharge because of Deane’s lack of finances.