Women charged over attack on man in intensive care

DERRY Bishop's Street Court house
Image caption The two women were remanded in custody for a video link hearing on 23 January

Two women have appeared at Londonderry Magistrates Court charged with attacking a patient in intensive care at Altnagelvin Hospital on Saturday.

The judge was told that a member of staff had to cover the patient's head to protect him from the attack.

Bridget Mongan, 23, and 29-year-old Eileen Stokes are both charged with grievous bodily harm with intent.

Patrick Stokes was being treated for serious head and spinal injuries when he was allegedly attacked.

Defendant Bridget Mongan from Stanley's Walk in Derry and Eileen Stokes from Mourne Park in Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, are further charged with assaulting two nurses and a doctor, and with disorderly behaviour.

A police officer told the district judge that the defendant Stokes, who has 27 previous convictions, is the victim's partner and the defendant Mongan, who has 13 previous convictions, is his sister.

The court was also told that the patient was in a semi-conscious condition and attached to medical drips when he was attacked.

Drips attached

The officer said that on Saturday night the police responded to a 999 call from medical staff who reported that the two defendants were attacking Mr Stokes.

The officer said both were in the unit earlier in the day before they returned in a drunken condition, entered Mr Mongan's room and repeatedly punched and slapped him on the face.

The court was told that medical staff rushed into the treatment room where they were verbally and physically abused by the defendants as they tried to protect the patient.

According to the officer, the defendants then began to pull drips attacked to the patient. Medical staff said this caused his condition to become unstable by increasing his blood pressure and pulse rate.

The officer said one of the medical staff lay across the patient's head to protect him during the attack.

The medical staff managed to remove the two defendants from the unit and then stabilised the patient.

The court was told that the defendants later managed to re-enter the unit and run towards the victim's treatment room.

'Unacceptable'

They were chased by medical staff who managed to stop them from entering the room. However the defendant Stokes managed to break free and went back into the room, where she pulled the patient across the bed.

Both defendants told the police that they had visited Mr Mongan in intensive care earlier in the day and when they left they bought and drank a litre bottle of vodka before returning to the hospital.

Both said they could not remember anything about the incident because they were so drunk.

A defence solicitor described the incident as "unpleasant" and said the "defendants have alcohol problems".

Police objected to bail saying there was a fear the defendants would return to the hospital if released.

the district judge said: "In some circumstances, people who pull out medical drips could be charged with attempted murder".

He said he had dealt with many incidents of disorderly behaviour in hospital before but he said this case "was a step further".

"Such an invasion of the sanctuary of a hospital ICU is wholly unacceptable," he said.

Both defendants were remanded in custody for a video-link hearing on 23 January.