Cafe worker who assaulted colleague sentenced

A cafe worker was assaulted by a colleague who blamed her for getting fired. Photo: Getty Images
A cafe worker was assaulted by a colleague who blamed her for getting fired. Photo: Getty Images
A South Island woman who believed she was fired from her cafe job assaulted the colleague she blamed for the loss - then weeks later punched a woman stocking Easter products at The Warehouse.

Dana Ruby Pike, who has a diagnosed mental health condition, was sentenced in the Nelson District Court today on several charges including assault, threatening behaviour and intimidation.

Three of the incidents happened at cafes and a retail store and another when the 35-year-old mother-of-two pointed scissors at a nurse in a hospital emergency department.

Judge Brett Crowley said it was also unusual that someone her age, with no previous record, should suddenly appear before the court.

Pike, who appeared via video link from the court in Ōamaru, said her mental health had declined since having her second child but she was improving since moving from Nelson to Ōamaru where she had support from her partner and his family.

The court heard how on June 13 last year, Pike sought help at Nelson Hospital’s mental health unit and was taken by staff to the emergency department. She was taken into a triage room when she didn’t want to talk in front of people in the waiting room.

While in there, she picked up a pair of scissors and pointed them at a nurse, who asked her to put them down and then left the room, pushing the alarm as she went.

Judge Crowley said the nurse had been “really upset” and had struggled to return to work.

“It was a real problem for her to continue the important work she does in the community.”

In November, while in an “aggravated mood” Pike claimed to have become more aggravated by a phone call to a family member. The call quickly became heated when she made multiple threats against the pair.

Judge Crowley said they were nasty threats made in the context of a family disagreement.

On the morning of January 10 last year, a teenager arrived at the Columbus Cafe where she worked with Pike. Pike approached her at the entrance, called her a f*****g b***h, then pushed her in the chest, causing her to stumble back.

Pike blocked the door to the cafe, preventing the victim from getting away and said, “It’s your fault I got fired.”

Judge Crowley said why Pike lost her job was unclear.

Pike then chased the victim through the Mitre 10 store where the cafe was located until staff intervened. Security then escorted Pike out of the premises but she returned later with a man, walked into the cafe and stared at the victim.

The victim did not suffer physical injuries but was afraid to go back to work.

A few weeks later, on February 28, Pike was at The Warehouse in Nelson when she attacked a woman stocking Easter products on shelves.

Pike jumped over a pallet, grabbed the victim and punched her in the face twice before the woman fled with mild injuries.

Pike refused to tell police why she had done it.

She then got a job at a cafe at Nelson Airport, and three weeks later assaulted the chef and the cafe manager.

On the afternoon of March 3, Pike was at work when she began slamming glass bottles in the kitchen and was told to stop. Pike then waited in the kitchen for the person who had asked her to stop and punched her in the chest with a closed fist, then forcefully shoved her backwards, causing her to stumble.

The victim ran to the manager’s office, and Pike followed. The manager tried to separate them and was forcefully shoved as Pike tried to get at the first victim.

Pike told police she had assaulted her because she “thought she could boss me around”, and denied she shoved the second victim.

In sentencing Pike to 60 hours of community work and 12 months of supervision, Judge Crowley told her the offending had seriously upset and frightened the victims.

He accepted Pike had a mental illness but other people with the same and coped well, provided they were properly looked after.

By Tracy Neal
Open Justice multimedia journalist