‘Distribution of benefits is completely wrong headed’

Staff from the Sperrin Chemotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital and Seagate Springtown employees who attended a Cancer Research UK tour of the unit and a presentation of a cheque for �24.000 from Seagate to Cancer Research UK. Included in the picture, seated from left, are June Coates (Seagate Corporate Communications Co-ordinator, Europe), Julie Magee (Cancer Research UK), Richard Gamble (Equipment Director, Seagate Springtown) and Dr Richard Stewart (Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Clinical Advisor to the Sperrin Unit). DER4815GS010

Staff from the Sperrin Chemotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital and Seagate Springtown employees who attended a Cancer Research UK tour of the unit and a presentation of a cheque for �24.000 from Seagate to Cancer Research UK. Included in the picture, seated from left, are June Coates (Seagate Corporate Communications Co-ordinator, Europe), Julie Magee (Cancer Research UK), Richard Gamble (Equipment Director, Seagate Springtown) and Dr Richard Stewart (Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Clinical Advisor to the Sperrin Unit). DER4815GS010

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District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment after he heard 31-year-old Ryan Robinson Robinson uses his £800 benefits each month to drink alcohol on daily basis.

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

The judge said Robinson was using his benefits as ‘drinking coupons’ and the state was essentially paying him to get drunk.

‘I had a single mother in here with two children getting £140 per fortnight or something absolutely horrendous like that’.

‘Some can argue there is a need for welfare reform - not to deprive single mothers of money but to redistribute it. The state is paying this man to sit in his room drinking, I would rather see it go to the single mother’

The judge said he was ‘fully supportive’ of the welfare state but ‘the way the money is distributed is completely wrong headed’.

Robinson, of Foyle Crescent, Newbuildings, pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour in Altnagelvin Hospital on two separate occasions in July and September.

Derry Magistrate’’s Court heard that police were called to the accident and emergency department in the early hours of the morning because Robinson was causing an annoyance to staff and patients.

He began shouting and swearing and was treated on the understanding that police would escort him out of the hospital afterwards.

Robinson continued to shout loudly at the officers as they left the hospital and was arrested.

In September, police received a report from the ambulance service that Robinson was in possession of a pair of scissors and was harming himself.

Officers went to his home and he became agitated, shouting and swearing at them.

The 31-year-old was taken to hospital by ambulance and he continued to behave aggressively in the busy accident and emergency department.

Defence solicitor Keith Kyle told the court his client has a ‘number of difficulties, primarily alcohol related’.

He said Robinson has taken ‘small steps’ to address his addiction but there was a lot of work still to be done.

District Judge McElholm adjourned sentencing for three months and ordered the 31-year-old to pay £1,000 compensation to the Friends of Altnagelvin.

He said this was to ‘make up to the community for this sort of behaviour’

Robinson was released on bail until February 19.