A Newry man who set fire to a mattress in a hospital unit in Craigavon and assaulted a member of staff has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
The 64-year-old’s barrister told the court: “There is no debate this does cross the custody threshold, this has been a guilty plea from an early stage, although there had been issues over his fitness to plea.”
Michael Paul Boyce, of Arthur Street, pleaded guilty to arson, criminal damage and common assault at Craigavon Magistrates’ on Friday.
It was heard that on October 23, of 2017, police received a report of a fire in a room at the Bluestone unit at Craigavon Area Hospital.
The defendant, an inpatient at the facility, had set fire to a mattress after becoming angry with staff after they removed his phone from him as part of his plan.
Boyce also struck out at a member of staff but did not connect with them.
The defendant was interviewed about the offences on March 20, of 2018, but claimed to have no memory of the incident.
Defence barrister Ciara Ennis stated: “There seems to be a bit of speculation from the prosecution with regards to how much damage was actually caused.”
District Judge Bernie Kelly commented: “The setting alight of a mattress in a hospital, either completely or just a little bit, is unacceptable”.
Ms Ennis said: “There is no debate this does cross the custody threshold, this has been a guilty plea from an early stage although there had been issues over his fitness to plea.
“This offence occurred on October 23 of 2017 and he continued to be an inpatient there until December 20 of 2017”.
She continued: “Shortly after his release he was diagnosed as bipolar, he has been on medication for it since and there have been no further aggressive incidents in the two months after or in his current residence.
“Probation has assessed him as having a low likelihood of re-offending, he is now on the right medication and in Trust accommodation which seems to be working for him”.
Judge Kelly stated: “Mr Boyce, these are serious offence setting fire to any hospital property is very serious”.
Boyce was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for two years.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.