Disorderly man warned he will be jailed after assault on nurse

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

The District Judge at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court, Barney McElholm, has warned a man who assaulted a nurse that if he commits any further offences in the next six months he will be sent to jail.

District Judge McElholm made the comment as he formally deferred the sentencing of Peter Mullan (26) until October, telling him he would jail him “for as long as I can send you there” if he returned to court again within the period of deferral.

Mullan, with an address at Duddy’s Court in the city, pleaded guilty to assaulting a nurse in Altnagelvin Hospital on April 18, last year.

The court was told he also admitted being disorderly in the hospital on two separate occasions between December 2015 and March 2016 and assaulting police.

The Magistrates’ Court was told that in relation to the offence currently before the court, Mullan had been taken to the hospital after he attempted to self harm with a piece of broken glass.

A male nurse was tasked to treat Mullan, but while he was trying to bandage a wound to the defendant’s neck, the 26-year-old ‘kicked off’.

District Judge McElholm was told that Mullan grabbed the male nurse around the neck. He was subsequently heard shouting: “I am going to strangle you.”

At this stage the alarm was raised and a family member intervened in the fracas and tried to restrain the defendant until police arrived.

The court also heard that on another occasion, when the defendant had attempted to self harm, the police had taken him to the hospital for assessment.

While he was in the accident and emergency department Mullan began to shout and swear. The court heard that his behaviour on this occasion had caused other patients, including children who were present and could hear him, to be visibly distressed.

On that occasion Mullan was taken to a private cubicle, but even there he refused to moderate his behaviour.

The court was told Mullan went ton to make comments to police about a colleague who was killed in Omagh and he also lashed out at the officers.

Mullan struck the police on the legs and attempted to bite one of them.

Defence counsel Steven Mooney said his client was an individual with very complex mental health issues who was taken to hospital after incidents of self harm.

Mr Mooney said his client did not “seek out the hospital with any desire to behave badly there”.

Deferring sentencing, Judge McElholm said: “If I could send him to an institution to get help I would do so. But I don’t have such an institution”.