A woman who ‘winded’ a Causeway Hospital nurse after kicking her in the stomach has been jailed for three months by a judge who said a message had to be sent out that NHS staff will be protected by the courts.
Paula Hoey, 38, of Fairmount Terrace, Omagh, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday for sentencing on charges of resisting a police officer, being disorderly at Coleraine’s Causeway Hospital and assaulting the female nurse on a date last summer.
A prosecutor said police were called to a Simon Community hostel in response to an ongoing matter and Hoey was arrested.
She was intoxicated and agitated and threw herself onto the floor and was non-compliant with police and other residents intervened.
Hoey had to be carried to a police vehicle and on the way to a police station she started to go into a spasm and was unresponsive and was rushed to the Causeway Hospital.
The prosecutor said Hoey shouted and screamed in the Emergency Department and at one stage kicked out with her foot striking a nurse in the abdomen who was left winded, shaken and upset.
During a police interview Hoey said she panicked when police came to the hostel.
Regarding the hospital incident the defendant said because she was handcuffed to a bed she thought was “being attacked and lashed out” and wished to apologise.
A defence lawyer said Hoey was once shot whilst pregnant and other events in her life had affected her physically and mentally which led to substance abuse for a number of years.
District Judge Peter King said anybody who assaults a nurse in a hospital is going to prison.
He told Hoey: “You cannot behave in this manner in a hospital. You can’t assault NHS staff going about their jobs and expect a non-custodial sentence.”
The judge said he wished to send out a message that Health Service staff will be protected as he jailed her for three months.
She was released on her own bail of £500 pending appeal.