A woman who assaulted a nurse in Altnagelvin Hospital has been warned she will go to prison if she does not address her alcohol problem.
Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare gave the warning to 59-year-old Marie Kennedy as she appeared at the local magistrates court.
Kennedy, of Eskaheen View, pleaded guilty to common assault and disorderly behaviour in Altnagelvin Hospital.
The charges relate to an incident on August 3.
Derry Magistrates Court heard Kennedy phoned police because she was feeling suicidal.
She was highly intoxicated and when police arrived at her home she was very upset.
Officers took the 59-year-old to the accident and emergency department and she was abusive to police and hospital staff.
There were several attempts to calm her down and when a nurse asked for a blood sample she lashed out.
The court heard Kennedy pushed the nurse’s upper body and grabbed her by the arms. The nurse was left with a four inch red mark to her arm as a result of the assault.
During police interview, Kennedy said she had been drinking throughout the day and felt very depressed.
She claimed that she had no memory of being in the hospital and ‘apologised profusely’ for her behaviour.
Kennedy said it was ‘totally out of character’ and that she was ashamed of herself.
She also made the case that she was afraid of needles.
Defence counsel Nicola Coulter told the court her client has issues with alcohol and was drinking to cope with feeling low.
The barrister said Kennedy has tried to get help for her issues in the past but she ‘allowed pride to get in the way’.
She added that the 59-year-old ‘now realises she has to put that pride aside’ and has an appointment with the community addiction team.
Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare deferred sentencing until March next year.
He told Kennedy: “This is an exceptional course to take for someone who commits an offence in a hospital. If I don’t see an improvement in coping with your drink problem you will receive a period of imprisonment’.
The judge added: “This type of behaviour cannot be allowed to continue. You are being given an opportunity because of your circumstances.”
Kennedy will appear in court again on March 6.