A health worker accused of stabbing herself has told a jury she was “put through hell” after being arrested on suspicion of staging the hospital blade attack.

Donna Maxwell, of Irvine, said the length of time legal proceedings have taken was “inhumane” following the incident at Ailsa Hospital in Ayr more than five years ago.

During a trial at Ayr Sheriff Court, the 47-year-old’s defence counsel produced a knife which Ms Maxwell said was the blade she’d bought in Tesco the day before the incident.

Police previously told the trial they had found “only cutlery type” knives in a search of Ms Maxwell’s home.

Ms Maxwell denies a charge of wasting police time by staging the knife attack in an incident which sparked a major police investigation on November 22, 2018.

The jury heard that a suspect, named in court as Abigail Hill, had been arrested in a common close in connection with the incident and had appeared in court.

READ MORE: Donna Maxwell trial hears that accused health worker 'bought knife from Tesco'

But the charges were later dropped – and the court was told Ms Hill has since died.

Ms Maxwell said she had no medical qualifications in her role and was unaware CCTV at the hospital was not working.

Defence counsel Janice Green asked Ms Maxwell whether she had any debt issues, to which the accused replied: “Not any more than anyone sitting here today.”

Describing the alleged assault, she said: "It all happened so quick. I remember the incident happened. The sheer panic. 

"I said ‘can I help you?’. They said they were looking for Jackie.

“I asked ‘do you have appointment?’ and said the appointment wouldn't be here, and then she started ranting and raving.

"At that point I thought ‘she's not very happy’. With her body language, I thought she could hit me.

"She was shouting and swearing, going on that the addiction services were rubbish, then kind of walked away.

"She didn't hit me. At that point everything went slow motion, then I saw the knife sticking out.

"I didn't feel it, I don't believe, but I never felt a thing. 

"Everything went into slow motion. My legs gave way and I pressed the buzzer."

Ayr Advertiser: Police pictured outside Ailsa Hospital in Ayr on the day of the incident in November 2018Police pictured outside Ailsa Hospital in Ayr on the day of the incident in November 2018 (Image: Charlie Gilmour)

Ms Maxwell was then asked to describe the identification process undertaken by police.

“They let me have a good look at [the images],” she said.

“They asked me to go back over again and pointed 'do you recognise this girl'. I didn't. I said sorry and I couldn't be sure - and would never put someone in that position.

"They came out to the house a few times, then I never really heard anything before coming to arrest me.”

Asked about the evidence from police that only cutlery knives had been found at her home, Ms Maxwell said that was “completely untrue”.

She continued: “A male and female officer removed me from the house. I don't know why, I was not there to ask.

"I had kitchen knives in the kitchen drawer and set of knives in the loft."

Ms Green asked: "The suggestion is you have gone in to buy the knife to stab yourself in the stomach to get a bit of money. Did that happen?"

Ms Maxwell replied: "I never disputed buying the knife but that never happened.

"I have been through hell since this. I have been dragged through the newspapers. When police came to my house they took my daughter’s iPad with her prelim work.

She added her daughter had to leave school because of bullying, and said: "Kids can be so cruel.”

READ MORE: Stabbed health worker's phone 'had searches for woman anatomy and injury compensation', trial hears

"My mum works for the NHS,” Ms Maxwell said. “The whole family have been through hell.

"The length of time this has taken is not humane."

Cross-examining, procurator fiscal depute Alasdair Millar asked: “If you thought you were about to be hit, would it not make sense to look at her hands?”

Ms Maxwell replied: "It happened so fast. I definitely didn't see the knife if that's what you're alluding to.

“She was ranting and raving, then kind of turned, quick as that, and walked away.”

Addressing the police evidence that no sharper knives were found in her home, Ms Maxwell said: “I don’t know anyone – any woman – without kitchen knives.”

The trial had previously heard evidence that Ms Maxwell had bought a Go Cook kitchen knife from Tesco in Irvine with a serial number that matched the blade recovered at the scene.

Ms Maxwell said: “I bought a Go Cook knife. I can’t say if it was similar.

“I don’t dispute buying a knife from Tesco. It’s the one I gave to my lawyer.”

Mr Millar pointed out that the knife produced by the defence was a different size and shape to the one police had recovered from the incident.

Ms Maxwell replied: “It’s the knife I bought. I don’t know how to explain that. I accept it looks different.”

Mr Millar said: "I put it to you that's a different style of knife; that one you have produced is not the one purchased.”

Ms Maxwell said: “That’s the only one; I can’t explain it to you.

“There is nothing I can say. You can twist that any way you want.”

Mr Millar said: “I put it to you that on November 22, you stabbed yourself.”

Ms Maxwell replied: “Completely incorrect. Can’t be further from the truth.”

Prosecutors allege that “on a number of occasions” between November 22 and 27, Ms Maxwell informed police that she “had been assaulted and struck on the body with a knife”.

The single charge against her alleges that she made statements to the police, at her Irvine home and at Ayr Hospital, which she knew to be false, and that she “did temporarily deprive the public of [the police's] services and render the lieges liable to suspicion and accusation of assault to injury”.

The trial, before Sheriff Shirley Foran, continues.