Judge pledges to protect under-pressure coronavirus pandemic hospital staff from being assaulted by patients

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A JUDGE has vowed to protect hard-pressed health service staff who are battling the coronavirus from being attacked by disorderly patients.

District Judge Peter King was speaking at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday where he sentenced a man to four months in jail following incidents at the town’s Causeway Hospital.

On January 3 this year Ryan Stirling (19) of Eglinton Lane in Portrush, was rushed to hospital after becoming unresponsive and as a deputy sister attempted to treat him with an oxegen mask he spat onto her hand.

He was shouting and swearing and later admitted to police his behaviour had been “terrible”.

On March 1 this year he was again taken to the hospital where he was shouting at police and medical staff and using words like “tramp, slag and slut”.

He said he hoped police officers would “all be blown up”.

At one stage when he was offered biscuits by hospital staff he threw them at police.

The court was also told that in September last year the defendant was disorderly at a Simon Community premises in Coleraine where he caused damage to an employee’s car and kicked and attempted to headbutt two police officers.

The defendant admitted several charges including assaults and being disorderly behaviour.

A defence barrister said the defendant abused the drug lyrica and also drank and he had “little or no memory” of the incidents due to his intoxication.

The defendant was not present at court.

Judge King said spitting at the nurse had been “outrageous” and he said the offending had been “despicable”.

The judge said the custody threshold had been “well and truly crossed”.

He said in “normal circumstances” such assaults on hospital staff were bad and he added: “But in these extraordinary times I view any offending against health service staff as a clear aggravating feature”.

Stirling was jailed for four months.

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