A cross-dresser who attacked a doctor after being woken up in the Mater Hospital in north Belfast has been jailed for seven months.
Norman McKeown, 54, lashed out at the medic for rousing him amid concerns he was about to fall out of a treatment chair.
McKeown, of Vernon Street in the city, was imprisoned for three months and ordered to serve a further four months of a previously suspended sentence.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard he turned violent when admitted to the hospital in a drunken state on May 16 this year.
A male doctor who was treating him feared he was going to fall and hit his head on the floor.
On being woken McKeown was verbally abusive and struck the victim a number of times on the arm.
With two nurses also alarmed by his actions, security were called to the ward.
McKeown pleaded guilty to three counts of common assault in connection with the incident.
Defence lawyer Pearse MacDermott told the court that McKeown struggles with drink and mental health problems.
“He was roused by the doctor while in an alcoholic state, woke up and lashed out. It’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation,” the solicitor said.
McKeown was previously referred to a counselling service in Scotland in a bid to help him deal with his issues.
But Mr MacDermott revealed the defendant was unable to complete the programme because he is a cross-dresser.
It is understood that the course is run by a religious organisation.
Passing sentence, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said: “I can see no alternative to immediate custody.”
Having imposed three months in prison for the hospital attack, she then activated another four-month prison term for an unrelated common assault last year.
McKeown was later released on bail pending appeal against the sentence handed down.