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Four months jail for man who spat at security in Craigavon hospital

A man who spat at a member of staff in Craigavon Area Hospital and had to be restrained by police has been given a four month prison sentence.

Noel Copeland, 54, of no fixed abode, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, via video-link from Maghaberry, charged with one count of common assault.

Prosecution outlined that on September 27 of this year, it was reported to police by staff at Craigavon Area Hospital that a patient had become aggressive and was “lashing out” at them.

Staff were requesting assistance to restrain the patient – identified as the defendant.

When police arrived, they observed the defendant who had been restrained to a chair by four security guards due to his aggressive behaviour.

Prior to the police’s arrival, the defendant had tried to attack staff with a chair. On police arrival the defendant became more aggressive, “shouting loudly across the ward and assaulted a security guard, the injured party, by spitting in his face and headbutting his shoulder three to four times.”

Police then brought the defendant to the ground “in order to prevent further assaults on staff members”.

It was noted that the injured party did not sustain any injuries.

Siún Áine Downey, defending, said that the defendant was a man with “considerable” physical and mental health issues.

“There’s actually a meeting taking place between the Western Trust and the Southern Trust on the 11th of October, that’s next week, to decide who has responsibility for this man.

“So what I’m asking your worship to do is to deal with him as leniently as possible today.”

District Judge Bernie Kelly, presiding, said: “This is a very serious offence for it took place in a hospital and it took place against members of staff in a hospital. That is a seriously aggravating feature.”

Judge Kelly noted that the defendant has a “not insignificant” record for similar offending and that this had occurred not long after he was released from custody for assaults.

Giving him credit for his plea of guilty, Judge Kelly imposed a sentence of four months in custody, adding that: “we’re bordering now on protection of the public at this stage, as well as rehabilitation of the offender.”

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