Abuse accused returned for trial to Crown Court

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A 20 year old Derry man has been remanded in custody on charges relating to a disturbance in Altnagelvin Hospital earlier this week. Derry Magistrate’s Court heard on Friday that Joseph Gallagher of Glendale Road was being treated in the hospital on Wednesday evening in relation to a drugs and alcohol issue when he became exceptionally agitated.

Opposing a request to release Gallagher on bail a member of the PSNI said police had been called to Altnagelvin after staff had failed to calm the defendant down. Staff told police he had shouted and screamed in public areas of the hospital, kicked several items of furniture and headbutted the walls. It was also alleged he had put his hands down his trousers and exposed himself to a female auxiliary. Staff said Gallagher had also grabbed a female member of staff by the crotch and hit out at a doctor. Staff attempted to treat the defendant despite his behaviour but were unable to control him and so called the police.

During interview the defendant admitted drinking a 10 glass bottle of vodka and eight cans of beer - which he alleged had reacted badly with his anti-depressant medication. Gallagher said he had “blacked out” and had no memory of the incident.

The court heard heard the PSNI had “grave concerns” about releasing Gallagher on bail. He had failed to appear at an earlier court hearing this month and had already amassed a “formidable record for someone of his age”.

Defence solicitor Leonie Breslin told the court her client had mental health difficulties and had gone “off the rails” on June 26 when he felt “no one cared about him”. She said he was currently receiving treatment for his depression but was at serious risk of self harm. She made the case that this incident was “out of character” for Gallagher despite his lengthy record.

District Judge Barney McElholm described Gallagher’s alleged behaviour as “completely and utterly unacceptable”.

“He is not supposed to drink - he has had a bail condition not to drink - but he continues to do so, I have no confidence that this man could keep to any conditions set down by the court.”

Mr McElholm remanded Gallagher in custody - asking that he be made a high priorty for mental health assessment. Gallagher will appear again in court on July 25.