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Hospital fundraiser accused of punching nurse in the face

By George Jackson

Published 02/12/2015

Michael Dermott Cairns (26), a full-time student from Galliagh Park in Londonderry, appeared before the city’s Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with assaulting the nurse in Altnagelvin Hospital’s accident and emergency department as she was treating him on Monday night after he fell unconscious
Michael Dermott Cairns (26), a full-time student from Galliagh Park in Londonderry, appeared before the city’s Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with assaulting the nurse in Altnagelvin Hospital’s accident and emergency department as she was treating him on Monday night after he fell unconscious

A man has been charged with punching a nurse in the face, just days after taking part in a fundraising event for the Friends of Altnagelvin Hospital on Friday.

Michael Dermott Cairns (26), a full-time student from Galliagh Park in Londonderry, appeared before the city's Magistrate's Court yesterday charged with assaulting the nurse in Altnagelvin Hospital's accident and emergency department as she was treating him on Monday night after he fell unconscious.

The officer said the nurse was carrying out a Glasgow coma scale test on the defendant to determine his state of consciousness. He then allegedly punched her on the right side of her face, causing her to suffer swelling and bruising.

The police witness said the defendant then grabbed the nurse by her arm and shouted abuse at her.

The nurse managed to break free and the police were called to the hospital. She told the police she did not think the punch was an involuntary action, rather she believed it was deliberate.

The officer said that in reply to the charge the defendant said: "I am really, really sorry. It must have been a reaction. I didn't do it on purpose". Opposing bail, the police constable said the defendant had accumulated five criminal convictions in the last five months, two of them for threats to kill and he believed the defendant would re-offend if released on bail.

Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin said there would be "a plea of guilty to the charge in due course". The barrister said that last Friday the defendant "was heavily involved in a charity fundraiser for the hospital".

He said the defendant's mother, who was in court, was willing to have the defendant live with her and his brother and Mr Devlin, applying for bail, said he believed a home environment would be a more secure place for the defendant.

The District Judge said there was only one way the defendant could escape a custodial sentence and that was by way of a compensation payment to the nurse.

"He will need to start attending to that now", he said.

Mr McElholm released the defendant on his own bail of £750 to appear in court again on December 17. As part of his bail conditions, the defendant is banned from entering the grounds of Altnagelvin Hospital, unless in a medical emergency.

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