Jailed for six months for slapping doctor on head

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A man who assaulted two doctors and two nurses has been jailed for six months.

Liam Christopher Harkin, of John Street, pleaded guilty to four charges of common assault on October 7.

The 25-year-old also admitted disorderly behaviour in Altnagelvin Hospital.

Derry Magistrates Court heard Harkin was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital by ambulance after he collapsed in the city centre.

Police were called to the hospital because the defendant was being disorderly.

Hospital staff then reported that four medical professionals had been assaulted by the 25-year-old.

He had pinched one woman’s bottom and poked a second woman in the same area.

Harkin punched a doctor on the back of the head. He also slapped another doctor on the head.

None of them sustained any injuries in the assaults.

Police arrested the defendant and he was ‘highly agitated’.

He tried to punch the police officers but was restrained and held down on a bed.

The court heard he appeared to be intoxicated though drink or drugs and was ‘incoherent’.

During police interview Harkin said he had been drinking and taking a cocktail of drugs for a number of days prior to being taken to hospital.

He said he had no recollection of the incident.

Defence counsel Nicola Coulter told the court her client has expressed remorse for the assaulting medical professionals and knows his behaviour was ‘unacceptable’.

She said Harkin has no prior disposition for violence and has no previous public order offences on his record.

District Judge Barney McElholm said this was an ‘extremely serious incident’.

‘He assaulted four medical professionals going about their very busy and important occupations.’

The judge added that some accident and emergency departments are ‘gaining notoriety for the amount of trouble and aggression shown by patients. It is not the fault of the hospitals, medical staff or security staff. It is the fault of the people who display aggression.

‘The community has to send out a very clear message this will not be tolerated’.