Belfast Telegraph

Muckamore Abbey Hospital assault nurse given suspended jail term after pulling sleeping patient off sofa and joking about it

By Michael Donnelly

A nursing assistant at a Co Antrim mental hospital is to appeal her conviction last month for assaulting a patient by pulling her from a sofa and then joking about it.

Yesterday 54-year-old Karen Hayes, of Barra Street in Antrim, was given a two-month suspended jail term for dragging the vulnerable sleeping woman onto the floor of a ward at Muckamore Abbey Hospital on November 7, 2012.

Antrim District Judge Alan White said that while the assault was "completely unjustified", he accepted that Hayes and her colleagues worked "in highly stressful circumstances".

At a contested hearing before Antrim Magistrates Court last month, a prosecution witness, who had travelled from Australia, said she was undergoing training in the Ennis ward of the hospital, which houses the most severely challenged mental health patients.

The witness, Hayley McFaul, said that as they passed through the ward, Hayes pulled the sleeping woman "by the waistband so that she fell on the ground... then after it Karen said in a joke: 'I wouldn't want to be woken from my sleep'."

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