A patient who refused to leave a busy doctor’s surgery in a dispute over medication acted like a four-year-old child, a court has heard.
Despite acquitting Steven Woodside of assault on police and behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace, a judge told him he had been “an enormous pain” during the stand-off earlier this year.
The 29-year-old was warned against staging any future “sit-down strike” and bound over for two years to ensure no public disruptions.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard police were called to Abotts Cross Medical Practice on the northern outskirts of the city on April 1 this year.
It was claimed that Mr Woodside, of Jordanstown Road, Newtownabbey, had refused to leave a GP’s room following a consultation over his medication.
A PSNI constable claimed the defendant appeared agitated and that the doctor may have felt threatened.
Contesting charges which also included resisting police, Mr Woodside began the case without any legal representation.
But after accepting the services of defence barrister Michael Boyd, he successfully applied to have the prosecution dismissed.
Mr Boyd argued: “Although Mr Woodside may have been behaving in an awkward and disagreeable fashion as a result of the dispute with the doctor, he was not behaving in a way likely to cause a breach of the peace.
“He was sat in a passive way in a seat, refusing to move.”
Prosecution counsel contended that the situation happened in a room that opened on to a corridor leading to the reception and public waiting area.
Deputy District Judge Holmes stressed police were placed in an “impossible situation” due to what he described as a “huge hole in the law” dealing with the situation.
He held there was insufficient evidence to suggest the defendant was about to become violent.
“What Mr Woodside was doing was being an enormous pain in this situation,” the judge said.
“It’s not an appropriate manner to deal with a situation where somebody is not giving you what you want to simply sit there and say ‘I’m not leaving until I get what I want’.”
Based on acquitting Mr Woodside of behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace, the judge held that he must also be cleared of assault on police and resisting arrest.
But he told the defendant: “Your behaviour was akin to a four-year-old child.”
Binding Mr Woodside over to keep the peace for two years in the sum of £500, Mr Holmes added: “If you have any difficulties whatsoever with medical treatment there are proper procedures to follow.
“What is not a proper procedure is a sit-down strike.”