Allegedly grabbed woman’s breasts inside Altnagelvin Hospital lift

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

A man who allegedly started shouting he had healing hands when in a lift at Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital, before grabbing a woman’s breasts, has been remanded in custody at Derry Magistrate’s Court.

Christopher Woods (53) of Pennethorne Court, Derry, was charged with sexual assault and being disorderly at the hospital on February 27.

A police officer connected Woods to the charges and opposed bail.

She told the court that the woman had been in the lift going to the ground floor and held the door open for Woods to get in.

He then began shouting that he had healing hands and allegedly grabbed the woman by the breasts.

When the doors opened the woman ran to staff and reported the incident, she was said to be ‘very frightened and upset.’

Police were called and when they arrived Woods was in the A&E Departmentand when they approached him he was said to have started swearing at them and lunged at an officer.

He made no comment at interview and could not tell police why he was in the hospital.

The police officer opposed bail on the grounds that Woods was currently on a suspended sentence and out of concern for the safety of the public.

She said that the alleged attack ‘was a random act’ and he could do the same at any point.

Defence solicitor, Mr. Paddy MacDermott, said there was nothing of a sexual nature in Woods’ previous convictions.

He said Woods had been drinking heavily and had not taken his medication.

He said he had no recollection of going to the hospital.

He asked for bail and said Woods depended on his medication to which District Judge Barney McElholm responded: ‘When he takes it.’

The solicitor said that the actions were ‘out of character’ for Woods and that he was ‘more of a nuisance.’

Judge McElholm added: “This man has graduated from being a nuisance to being a menace.”

He said that Woods had chosen to drink 10 cans of strong alcohol and not take his medication.

The judge said the alleged injured party had gone to hospital with no idea of what she was about to experience.

He asked what was there to stop this happening again and said that he could impose conditions that Woods takes his medication, but they would be impossible to police.

Judge McElhlm said if he had the power to remand Woods to a mental health facility he would, but he went on: ‘If we had a functioning government it might realise the lack of power and resources we have to deal with people with mental health issues.’

He refused bail and Woods was remanded in custody to March 15. The judge ordered that he be assessed in the meantime by mental health professionals.