01 Oct 2022

Five months jail for Derry woman who assaulted doctors and nurses at Altnagelvin A&E

Altnagelvin A&E
A 21-years-old woman was today jailed for five months for assaulting two doctors and two nurses in the accident and emergency department of Altnagelvin Hospital in June last year. Twenty-one-years-old Abigail Clark, from Ashlee House in Ardmore, appeared at Derry Magistrate's Court where she also admitted assaulting a police officer as well as assaulting two civilian detention officers and two police officers in Strand Road Police Station following her arrest. The court was told that one of the nurses she assaulted, a ward sister, sustained bruising to her chin and that a female detention officer in the police station was bitten on her left hand, leaving seven visible teeth marks. She was later treated in hospital for her bite injuries. A solicitor for the Public Prosecution Service told District Judge Greg McCourt that on 16 June police were tasked to Altnagelvin Hospital's accident and emergency department following reports from medical staff of a woman, the defendant, behaving in an erratic and volatile manner. Medical staff told the police that several of them had been assaulted by Clark and that they had to sedate her to calm her down. The court heard Clark continued with her aggressive behaviour, upsetting patients in the accident and emergency department, and police decided to apply both handcuffs and limb restraints on her. She was given more sedation as she continued to upset other patients by her behaviour. On the way to Strand Road police station, the court was told Clark continued to be aggressive and tried to bite a police officer and she kicked another officer. In the station, because of her behaviour, she was asked by a female detention officer to remove her bra. Clark then bit the detention officer on the back of the hand. She also kicked a police officer on the collar bone and kicked another officer in the stomach. When she was later interviewed about the offences. the court heard Clark told police she remembered nothing about her behaviour and she agreed such behaviour in a hospital was unacceptable. She denied she had been drinking but the court was told her blood was found to contain a high level of alcohol. Defence barrister Stephen Chapman said Clark was not proud of her behaviour. Pointing out she had been in custody in Hydebank Prison since her arrest last June Mr Chapman said while there had attained an enhanced level status and availed of the employment opportunities offered to her in Hydebank. The barrister said the previous week Clark had been put on probation for three years in Dungannon Crown Court for other assault offences. The District Judge said there was no doubt that assaults on medical staff in a hospital setting deserved an imprisonment sentence. He said given the fact that Clark had spent over seven months in custody for the offences, she had time to reflect on her behaviour while in jail. He told her: "To your credit you have turned the corner. You have looked after yourself in prison where you got an enhanced category status and you are doing catering work there. You strike me as somebody who, with no access to drink or drugs, can behave properly." Imposing a five month jail sentence, Mr McCourt said as Clark had time served she would be released from jail today.

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