A 26-year-old man who went berserk and assaulted a nurse and a porter and destroying equipment in Enniskillen’s South West Acute Hospital A&E department, has been sentenced to 16 months and ordered to pay over £500 compensation.
Judge Paul Ramsey QC told Jason Magerr he had thought of suspending the term, but for the fact he was on bail at the time and then breached bail again while awaiting sentence, and that was “something I cannot ignore”.
Magerr, of Carnmore Lodge, Cornagrade, Enniskillen, had admitted two counts of common assault, damaging a nurse’s glasses, together with hospital equipment, including a computer monitor and other equipment, all on June 21 last year.
The Omagh Crown Court judge said a security video of the attacks did not display Magerr in a good light, in which he showed nothing but violence to those attempting to help him.
It was, said Judge Ramsey, an example of the sort of scourge on the community of what unfortunately doctors, nurses and hospital porters have to endure from people who were often intoxicated.
The judge said while he had no victim impact reports, he noted that a nurse had not returned to her post since the attack, and while Magerr had sent both her and the court a personal letter in which in his own limited way, he expressed remorse, that was betrayed by committing further offences.
“I am afraid I cannot overlook that,” he added.
Prosecution lawyer Michael McAleer had told an earlier hearing the outburst was captured on CCTV, creating “a picture which paints a thousand words”, of Magerr punching and kicking out at staff, and hospital equipment.
Magerr was taken to the A&E department with self-inflicted wounds, and at one point, grabbed a pair of scissors and self-harmed again. Although a nurse was initially able to quieten him down, Magerr then turned on her.
Police had been tasked after it was reported that he was wrecking the place and attacking staff, but left before they arrived. In his wake Magerr left over £3,000 worth of damage to equipment including a computer monitor and a pair of glasses belonging to a staff member.
Mr McAleer said while the criminal damage charges were the more serious, the most aggravating feature of the case was his attack on hospital staff and the court may wish to impose a deterent sentence.
Defence lawyer Gavyn Cairns said that Magerr wished to make a complete and unreserved apology to the hospital staff. This he said, was copper fastened in a letter he had written, and given to the court, without any prompting from legal advisors.
This, said Mr Cairns, showed genuine remorse for what was disgraceful and outrageous behaviour on the part of Magerr who acknowledged that the custody threshold had been crossed.
The defence lawyer said that his client has had a protracted history of prescription drug and alcohol abuse, but which in the past eight months has been trying to tackle with the aid of a local group.
Mr Cairns added that Magerr had already served the equivalent of a nine-month term, and tantamount to the maximum for common assault, given credit for his guilty pleas, and that the court, through its armoury of options, could deal with him by way of an additional penalty and leave something hanging over his head.
Judge Ramsey ordered that having served eight months, he will serve a further eight months on supervised licence during which he must engage with addiction services or go straight back to prison. Magerr was also given 26 weeks to pay compensation of £545 to the nurse whose glasses were smashed.