A Newry man who spat at a doctor at Craigavon Area Hospital and assaulted a paramedic has been sentenced to 100 hours community service and probation.
In sentencing the 30-year-old, the district judge said: “My instinct initially was that you were going to prison, however, the odd thing is that you have practically nothing on your record. It is quite absurd that you would commit such offences.”
Darren Christopher Devlin, of Glenvale Heights, appeared for sentencing on two counts of common assault, assault on police and disorderly behaviour at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Prosecution outlined that on July 12, at 9.20pm, police received a report from staff at Craigavon Area Hospital regarding a male patient who had to be restrained due to his aggressive behaviour.
Officers arrived to find this defendant being restrained on the ground by staff of the hospital. He was heard shouting phrases such as “f*** off” and “up the IRA”.
Police placed Devlin in handcuffs and were directed by staff to speak with a paramedic, who had first dealt with the defendant.
He told officers that he had collected Devlin from Camlough Road, Newry, after he had collapsed due to intoxication.
The paramedic had roused the defendant before placing him in the back of an ambulance. Whilst being taken to hospital Devlin drifted in and out of sleep and made several attempts to take off his seatbelt.
Whilst awake, the defendant had also been verbally abusive to the paramedic telling him to “f*** off”. He also punched at the male’s stomach, although not connecting.
Upon arrival at the hospital, the paramedic’s colleague opened the rear door at which point he was kicked in the back by Devlin but avoided falling.
He informed police that the defendant had asked his name. He stated Devlin had referred to him as a “Catholic b******” adding that he would punch and kick him until there was “nothing left for the coffin”.
The defendant was arrested in the hospital but continued to kick and spit at police and staff on a number of occasions.
So much was the concern that a spit hood was deployed. Later a duty doctor removed this in order to gain compliance from Devlin but he then spat on her.
The defendant also spat at a constable with the spittle landing on body armour. He was then subsequently conveyed to Dungannon Custody Suite.
When interviewed the following morning, Devlin apologised for his actions stating he had not consumed alcohol or drugs for three months prior and had on this occasion taken too much.
Defence barrister Turlough Madden stated that the facts of the case were “astounding” given that his client had only one previous entry on his record, which was for no insurance.
He said: “This was reprehensible behaviour. The outline of the facts can’t be mitigated. This is a relatively young man, who attends today with his mother and his uncle.
“I do have a letter from his GP. This is a man who has struggled with his mental health for some time.”
At this point, District Judge Amanda Brady stated: “This defendant is as close as you can get to going to prison, whilst appearing before the magistrates’ court.
“The only reason I am hesitating is that he only has one previous conviction. There must be a mental health issue but I would have expected some kind of medical evidence.”
She added: “Frankly, that is the only thing that might keep him out of jail.”
Devlin was sent to the holding cells, whilst Mr Madden furnished the district judge with a copy of the GP letter for her to consider.
Upon returning, Mr Madden stated that his client had appeared “terrified” whilst he consulted with him in the cell.
He said: “I ask that your worship impose an enhanced combination order. In short, this is a man who requires help which probation can offer and community service will give him the chance to pay back to the community.”
District Judge Brady stated: “This was disgraceful behaviour. The court takes very seriously the assault, particularly of paramedics or doctors and of incidents in hospitals.
“This is because it causes distress not only to them but also to anyone who happened to be in the hospital at the time, many of them who are at their lowest ebb.”
She continued: “My instinct initially was that you were going to prison, however, the odd thing is that you have practically nothing on your record. It is quite absurd that you would commit such offences.
“Also Mr Madden has provided me with medical evidence that shows that you do suffer from some mental health issues.”
Devlin was sentenced to an enhanced combination order, consisting of 100 hours community service and 12 months probation.
In addition, the defendant was ordered to pay compensation of £100 to both the paramedic and the doctor he assaulted.