THE conviction of Ayrshire health worker Donna Maxwell for wasting police time after faking a stabbing attack at a hospital came at the end of a trial at Ayr Sheriff Court that stretched into five days – a trial that was finally held more than five years after the incident happened.

A jury found Maxwell, 47, of Livingstone Terrace in Irvine, guilty by a majority verdict on Wednesday, January 10 after little more than 90 minutes of deliberation and after hearing nearly four days of evidence.

Maxwell had been charged with making statements to the police which she knew to be false, thereby “temporarily depriving the public of [the police’s] services and rendering the lieges liable to suspicion and accusation of assault to injury”.

Another woman – who, the trial heard, has since died – was identified as a suspect and appeared in court in connection with the incident, before charges were later dropped.

Here’s how the trial unfolded…

Days 1 and 2

Three members of staff and a trainee gave their accounts of what happened, with medical secretary Vivienne Williams, 62, describing how she answered a buzzer to hear Maxwell shouting “help me, help me, it’s Donna”.

Paramedic Robert Frew, 57, said Maxwell had told him that “a girl was ranting, then stabbed her”, but that Maxwell could not give a description.

Ambulance technician Luke Galloway, 29, who also attended the incident, said he could see a knife sticking out of the right side of Maxwell’s abdomen, just below the ribcage, and told the jury she “appeared quite calm and not agitated by the injury in any other way”.

Ayr Advertiser: Police cordoned off the Ailsa Hospital building where the incident happened in November 2018Police cordoned off the Ailsa Hospital building where the incident happened in November 2018 (Image: Charlie Gilmour)

Detective Constable Stewart McCulloch said Maxwell had told him she’d been approached by a slim female, five foot two or five foot three in height, “with a drug user appearance” and wearing a dark parka jacket and a woolly hat.

A second detective constable said the blade used was a ‘Go Cook’ knife sold exclusively by Tesco, while jury was shown CCTV footage of Maxwell buying a ‘Go Cook’ knife at the supermarket’s Irvine store the day before the incident.

Asked if any knives were found in the search of Maxwell’s home, the officer replied: “Only cutlery types.”

Read more from the trial’s first two days by clicking here.

Day 3

Inspector Paul Richmond told the jury that in 27 years of police service he couldn’t recall a single other stabbing incident where the assailant had left the knife in the victim’s body, and that “self-inflicted wounds” were the only time he had seen a knife not removed.

Alan Muir, 50, who was the manager of the Tesco supermarket at the time of the incident, said that as well as their barcode, each individual knife could be tracked by a unique ID number, while police forensic science officer Rachel Brown said that most of the DNA found on the knife used to stab Maxwell came from the accused, with no traces found of Ms Hill’s DNA or that of any other identifiable individual.

Ayr Advertiser: The incident more than five years ago sparked a major emergency responseThe incident more than five years ago sparked a major emergency response (Image: Charlie Gilmour)

James McGoldrick, who served as a detective sergeant in Police Scotland’s cyber crime unit, told the court how police analysed Maxwell's phone and found Yahoo searches for 'woman's anatomy' and 'woman's anatomy diagram', which had been deleted by a user of the device.

Searches for 'claim compensation' on the UK Government’s website, and 'claim compensation if victim of crime', were also found in its browsing history.

Read full details of the third day’s evidence by clicking here.

Day 4

Giving evidence in her own defence, Maxwell denied having any debt issues and gave her account of events, saying “it all happened so quick".

Maxwell denied staging the attack to get, in Ms Green’s words, “a bit of money”, and said she and her family had “been through hell” since her arrest on suspicion of faking the attack.

Procurator fiscal depute Alasdair Millar put it to Maxwell that she had stabbed herself, to which the accused replied: “Completely incorrect. Can’t be further from the truth.”

In his summing-up to the jury, Mr Millar said there were “too many coincidences” to explain away the incident. 

He said Maxwell had "purchased exactly the same knife used to stab her", and said the accused "had a scapegoat, and knew she could blame a patient". 

Mr Millar called Maxwell's account “incorrect, inaccurate, inconsistent”.

Ayr Advertiser: The trial took place at Ayr Sheriff Court and stretched into a fifth dayThe trial took place at Ayr Sheriff Court and stretched into a fifth day (Image: Google Street View)

Ms Green, however, said the Crown's case had been "botched by police failings" and added: "It's ridiculous someone stabbed themselves, risking their life, for a bit of cash. There are easier ways."

For more on the fourth and final day of evidence, click here.

Day 5

The jury was sent out to consider its verdict at 10.36am.

After little more than an hour and a half of deliberation, the foreman announced at 12.18pm that they had found Maxwell guilty by a majority verdict.

Sheriff Shirley Foran thanked the jury for their service over “a challenging few days”, and deferred sentence for background reports, with Maxwell released on bail.

Defence solicitor Ian Gillies said he would “reserve his position” until the sentencing hearing.

READ MORE: For more on the prosecution and defence’s closing speeches, click here.