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Belfast hospital patient who flung chairs avoids jail

By Alan Erwin

Published 05/01/2016

A hospital patient who flung chairs about and ripped out a computer mouse has avoided being sent to jail.

Gary Byrne was told his behaviour in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast "crossed the custody threshold".

But based on the 29-year-old's troubled background a judge instead imposed a probation order and community service.

Byrne, of Hawtree Park in Lisburn, Co Antrim, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and disorderly behaviour charges.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he attended the Royal on October 2 last year to seek medical attention for his knee.

After asking to see the mental health team he started shouting abuse at staff and throwing chairs about.

Prosecutors said Byrne continued to be aggressive, ripping out a computer mouse and damaging a usb port.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd accepted his client's actions put him at risk of being sent to jail.

"He's totally ashamed of his behaviour, it's utterly unacceptable and he wants to apologise to hospital staff and the court," the barrister said.

Mr Boyd described how a "troubled, chaotic" childhood had contributed to Byrne's mental health issues.

Deciding against a prison sentence, Judge King told the defendant: "It's quite clear there are issues in your background that trigger your behaviour."

He ordered him to serve 75 hours community service alongside 12 months probation.

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