Patient ‘lost plot’, sprayed fire extinguisher and threatened to follow nurse

A hospital patient filmed a nurse on his phone and then threatened to follow her home on a night where he “lost the plot” and assaulted security staff by spraying a fire extinguisher at them.

Other nurses complained that the patient pulled a tube from his arm and threatened them with blood.

Liam McGowan, of 138 Meadowbrook, Craigavon, Co Armagh, faced sentencing yesterday and Judge Olann Kelleher said he was concerned that the accused had not been doing enough to address his alcohol problem.

Inspector John Deasy said that apart from alcohol one of the contributing factors for the accused man “losing the plot” on the night was alleged to have been the fact that he had been submerged upside down under water earlier that day as part of a training exercise for working on an oil rig.

Solicitor Donal Daly said it was a highly unusual case where the defendant had no previous convictions, had not come to attention since this night, and was so clearly not himself on the occasion that gardaí had to invoke the Mental Health Act.

Judge Kelleher asked McGowan when he last had a drink as the issue appeared from background reports to be completely unaddressed. McGowan said he had been drinking a couple of days ago.

The judge said: “You are facing a custodial sentence. It is up to yourself [to address the drink problem].” Sentencing was put back until April 23.

A fire extinguisher was sprayed at three security men during a scene of violence and mayhem at Cork University Hospital.

McGowan pleaded guilty at Cork District Court to charges of assault causing harm to the three at the accident and emergency unit on November 5, 2017. He also admitted causing criminal damage at the unit where he smashed a glass panel in a door and set off a fire extinguisher which he then sprayed into the faces of the three security officers.

One of the injured officers, John Looney, testified: “He was a danger to patients, he was a danger to us, it went on for six and a half hours. Gardaí came twice. He was taken away twice and he was taken back to us.”

Another injured officer, Michael Tobin, said the accused ‘lost the plot”.


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