Altnagelvin assaults: Man fails to have sentence reduced

DERRY Bishop's Street Court house
Image caption McConnell has 18 previous convictions, several of them for assaults

A 60-year-old man who assaulted a ward sister, a nurse and two porters in Altnagelvin Hospital, has failed to have his six-month jail sentence reduced.

Gerald Martin McConnell, from Iniscairn Court in Creggan, admitted the assaults in the emergency department on 18 September 2016.

McConnell had been taken to the hospital to be detoxed after a three-day drinking spree.

He was sentenced on 16 June.

The judge described his actions as "nasty, serious and terrible".

The judge said McConnell had carried out a series of assaults on people who were simply trying to help him.

In the hospital, McConnell first assaulted a ward cleaner by splashing an alcohol-based cleaning gel in her face, causing stinging to her eyes.

A ward sister then tried to calm McConnell down but he punched her in the face and on the arm. A psychiatric nurse also tried to calm McConnell down but he swung a punch at her, narrowly missing her.

Two hospital porters came to the assistance of the nursing staff. McConnell punched one of them in the mouth causing a split lip and he then kneed the other porter in the face.

The police were called and McConnell was arrested and taken to Omagh police station. There he admitted the offences and told the police he remembered nothing.

The police then decided to drive McConnell back to his home in Derry but on the journey he punched the police driver in the face and then spat on her.

He bit a second officer on the arm with such force that the officer had to punch McConnell in the face in order to break free from the bite.

The judge said McConnell's hospital victims were public servants who worked sometimes in a difficult environment during which they witnessed some awful things.

"They were treated with contempt by you as they were trying to treat you," said the judge.

"Assaults on public servants while carrying out their duty are totally unacceptable and there are too many of these in Altnagelvin Hospital."