Man jailed for assaulting nurses, hospital porters and police officers

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

A man who assaulted nurses, hospital porters and police officers in an ‘appalling way’ has been jailed for six months.

Gerard Martin McConnell, of Iniscarn Court, pleaded guilty to a total of nine offences committed on September 16, last year.

They include assault occasioning actual bodily harm; common assault; assaulting police and disorderly behaviour.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard the 59-years-old was in Altnagelvin Hospital and he became ‘irate’ as he was being assessed.

He then assaulted five members of hospital staff.

McConnell punched the ward sister on the arm and the head and threw a bottle of alcohol gel in the face of another nurse.

He punched a further nurse in the face before he was removed from the ward.

As the defendant was in a corridor he punched a hospital porter, busting his lip and causing an injury which required three stitches.

McConnell also attempted to bite another hospital porter and knee him in the face.

Police were called and the defendant was being restrained on the floor when they arrived.

He was struggling violently and roaring and shouting.

As he was being transported in a police vehicle, the defendant punched a female officer and spat in her face.

He also bit another officer on the arm breaking the skin.

The court heard the officer had to punch McConnell to get free from the bite.

During police interview, the defendant admitted he had lashed out but could not remember why or who he had hit.

Defence counsel Eoghan Devlin provided a Psychologist’s Report to the court which outlines his McConnell’s ‘lengthy history’ of difficulties.

However, the barrister accepted there was no excuse for his client’s behaviour.

Mr Devlin said this was a ‘series of offences which would outrage even the most mild mannered observer’.

He added that there has not been ‘any explosive repetition’ of this behaviour.

The barrister also told the court the ‘prospect of an immediate custodial sentence has been a considerable burden’ upon the defendant, who acts as a carer to his mother.

Passing sentence, Judge Barney McElholm said the report ‘makes it abundantly clear this man’s mental health issues arise from one fact that is is abuse of alcohol and his steadfast refusal to admit he has a problem’.

He added McConnell ‘garners no sympathy from this court’ as a result.

The judge said he believed McConnell’s mother ‘is his carer not the other way around. She shouldn’t have to be sitting worrying about his drinking’.

Judge McElholm said the defendant had assaulted nurses, hospital porters and police officers in ‘quite an appalling way’ and only an immediate custodial sentence would be appropriate.