Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Security review after hospital gun scare

Hospital chiefs in Londonderry are reviewing security after a man with a BB gun sparked an evacuation.

However, they praised staff for their actions during the scare at Altnagelvin Hospital on Tuesday night.

After being alerted to the presence of a man with what appeared to be a handgun, staff moved him to a cubicle, called police and evacuated 35 people from the area.

Margaret Kelly, director of acute care for the Western Trust, said: “A&E staff and our facilities staff across the trust are to be commended for their handling of this incident. They both contained the situation and placed patient safety first at all times.”

And Dr Alan McKinney, lead Accident and Emergency consultant, said: "Our staff team was quick to react and with the aid of the collaborative efforts of the A&E staff and site managers, our own security team and close work with the PSNI the situation was defused.”

He added: “The Western Trust are committed to running a robust and safe service at the Altnagelvin site both for patients and staff. The trust will be investigating this incident further."

Meanwhile, a Derry man has appeared in court charged in connection with the incident.

Martin Thomas Boyd (46), a landscape gardener from the Fountain estate, is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Police told District Judge Eamonn King the defendant was arrested by three officers. “The police received a report from a member of hospital staff that a drunk male was in the patient room with a handgun. Police officers arrived, by which stage he had moved into a treatment room.

“The defendant was challenged by three officers who had their firearms drawn. He was arrested and taken to Strand Road police station. During his police interview he said he had bought the BB gun for his 13-year-old son at the Lammas Fair in Ballycastle earlier in the day,” the police witness said.

“The imitation gun was in a box, but after drinking eight pints of beer he made his way back to Derry and went to Altnagelvin Hospital with the gun clearly visible tucked inside his waistband,” he added.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said his client had gone to hospital to have his broken left arm — which was in plaster — examined.

“The police accept that he was not waving the imitation firearm around in the hospital and they accept it was not his intention to be violent. It is not a case of causing havoc in a hospital ward,” he said.

The defendant was remanded on his own bail of £250.

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