A drunk woman who staggered into a triage room and attacked a pregnant nurse at Coleraine’s Causeway Hospital has been jailed for eight months.
Rosaleen McAuley (50), of Shandon Park, Ballymoney, kicked the nurse and despite the assault she still received treatment before being arrested.
The defendant appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday which heard it was the the latest in a number of offences she has committed at the hospital.
The attack on the pregnant nurse happened at the end of March this year and in another incident, in February, McAuley was being disorderly as staff were carrying out a resuscitation of a sick elderly woman whose anxious family watched on.
A deferred sentence regarding McAuley being disorderly at the same hospital last summer was also mentioned at the court. A prosecutor said McAuley was at the Emergency Department on March 29 this year and had been triaged and was returned to a waiting area where she made a “nuisance” of herself before she “staggered” into the triage room and kicked a pregnant nurse on the right knee and clenched her fist putting the nurse in fear for her safety.
The prosecutor said despite what happened, McAuley received treatment before being arrested. During an interview, McAuley told police she had taken drink and was sorry for what happened after she had gone to the hospital to get help. Throughout the court hearing, McAuley sat with her head down in the dock. She had previously pleaded guilty to charges of assault, disorderly behaviour and resisting police.
The court was also told that on February 8 this year staff had refused to treat the defendant and she would not leave and caused a disturbance by being verbally abusive. She shouted: “I won’t f--king leave, you can call the f--king police”.
The prosecutor said around 20 patients were present in the Emergency Department including an elderly lady who was being resuscitated with her family present. Police took McAuley home but she continued to be abusive and refused to get out of the vehicle and struggled.
Defence solicitor Derwin Harvey said the defendant expressed her “horror” when the offences were described to her. He said she had sought assistance from the hospital on a number of occasions due to her alcoholism and mental health issues. Mr Harvey said the mother-of-seven, who had two of her daughters present in court, developed an alcohol addiction after the breakdown of her marriage and she continues to seek help.
Having regard to the court’s thoughts on people who are disruptive at hospitals, Mr Harvey said the court had a “duty” to send his client to jail but asked for a deferment to see how alcohol treatment turns out.
District Judge Liam McNally told McAuley he had no doubt she has been making strenuous efforts to resolve her alcohol problem but he said the difficulty was that she appeared at court seven years ago for disorderly behaviour and assault on police and since then she had “racked up” eight disorderly and seven assault on police convictions.
He said McAuley had been given conditional discharges, fines, Probation and a suspended sentence and the court had “bent over backwards” to help her but there was a stage when “a line must be drawn”.
Judge McNally said that was particularly so as she had kicked a pregnant nurse and threatened her with a clenched fist. He jailed her for eight months but McAuley was released as £500 bail was fixed for appeal. The judge said he wanted to protect staff at the Causeway Hospital and pondered not releasing her ahead of the appeal in June but he freed her with the conditions that she must not attend the Causeway Hospital unless referred by a GP and said she is only to attend in a state of sobriety.Reporter