A woman has been sentenced after she was found guilty of manslaughter during an altercation in Welwyn Garden City.

Courtney Richman, aged 26, of George Court in Welwyn Garden City, appeared at Luton Crown Court today (Friday 31 May).

She was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 21 months. Richman was also given a rehabilitation requirement lasting between 15 to 25 days and was ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work.

The court heard that on Monday 6 December 2021, Richman was involved in an altercation with the victim in Lloyds Bank in Howardsgate.

The victim was 82-year-old Myra Coutinho-Lopez, also from Welwyn Garden City. She was described by her family as a ‘truly unique person’ who had a ‘strong commitment to supporting others whenever and wherever possible’.

Myra, who suffered with dementia, had attended the bank to withdraw money but became confused when presented with her bank statements. As the staff tried to help, a queue of other customers began to form, including Richman.

The court heard that an argument broke out between the two over the length of time that Myra was taking. When Myra moved from the counter following the offer of assistance from a member of public, Richman was seen clapping her hands.

Myra then swung her handbag towards Richman who was hit by it as she turned away.

It was after this moment that Richman pushed Myra with both hands, causing Myra to travel some distance, landing on the floor on her hip and shoulder. She was taken to hospital but sadly died from her injuries over a week later on Thursday 16 December.

Richman was arrested the day after the incident, on Tuesday 7 December.

Detective Superintendent Rob Hall, Head of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “This has been a harrowing ordeal for Myra’s family and our thoughts remain with them at what continues to be a difficult time.”

Myra’s daughter, Michelle Lopez, paid tribute to her mother and said: “We’ve been forced to navigate the difficulties and trials of life without my beloved mother for over two years.

“Her life was taken away from her on 16 December 2021, and we’ve been left trapped in an emotional prison with scars too deep to be mended ever since.

“She’s left an unspeakable void to all who knew her including her beloved children, extended family and lifelong friends worldwide.

“The yearning for my mother’s presence is a constant ache in my heart, particularly as I observe other daughters engaging in mundane activities with their mothers, such as grocery shopping or sharing a coffee or meal together. These memorable moments now evoke a feeling of emptiness.

“Those who knew her miss her deeply and will continue to cherish her memory and honour her legacy of kindness, fortitude and generosity. She was a shining light on how to survive and thrive in life despite adversities and setbacks.

“After enduring years of waiting, I’m thankful to the jury for reaching a guilty verdict, and for the work of Hertfordshire Constabulary officers and the Crown Prosecution Service.”

A further tribute to Myra, from her family, can be read on the Herts Police website at www.herts.police.uk/news/hertfordshire/news/2022/january-2022/tribute-to-myra-coutinho-lopez/

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