A west Belfast man who assaulted nursing staff after breaking into the staff canteen at the Mater Hospital to steal purses has been jailed for eight months.
Judge Stephen Fowler QC told David William Weir that he was jailing him to “reflect the public abhorrence at such conduct in accident and emergency departments and also to act as a deterrent to others’’.
Weir, 32, of Berlin Street, off the Shankill Road, had previously pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to theft and assault on a ward sister and a staff nurse at the hospital on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.
Weir, who has 111 previous convictions, is currently in custody after breaching licence conditions imposed for a previous burglary conviction.
When he was arrested at the Mater in the early hours of January 24, police found four purses, a wallet and two sets of car keys.
Earlier he had grabbed sister Abby Gordon by the arms and “pushed her into a solid door frame” after she challenged him in the staff tea room.
She told police: “He looked visibly angry and tense.’’
The court was told that a staff nurse heard her pleas for help and she came to her aid only to be assaulted by Weir.
During an attempt to restrain him, the defendant fell to the floor and a number of purses and keys dropped out of his pockets.
Weir was finally restrained by hospital security staff until police arrived.
Defence barrister Barry Gibson said that when interviewed by police Weir had “no recollection’’ of the incident after taking 84 Diazepam tablets, 64 Tramadol tablets and 28 various sleeping tablets.
The barrister added that Weir can no longer live at home on the Shankill Road because of threats against him from paramilitaries adding that the defendant had “ceased all forms of medication’’ in prison and was “trying to change his lifestyle’’.
Weir was sentenced to 16 months, with half to be spent on licence.
The term will begin in September after he finishes his current sentence.