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Thief who assaulted nursing staff gets prison sentence

By John Cassidy

Published 13/06/2015

A man who assaulted nursing staff after breaking into the staff canteen at the Mater Hospital in Belfast to steal purses has been jailed for sixteen months.

Judge Stephen Fowler told David William Weir that he was jailing him to "reflect the public abhorrence at such conduct in accident an emergency departments and also to act as a deterrent to others".

Weir (32), of Berlin Street, off the Shankill Road in west Belfast, had previously pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to theft and assault on a ward sister and a staff nurse at the hospital on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Purvis told the court that ward sister Abby Gordon was working the night shift in the hospital's accident and emergency department just before 1am on January 24 this year when she was alerted by security staff that a person had entered the staff tea room.

In her witness statement to police, the ward sister said she went into the room and saw a man standing in a corner of the room "putting something into the right side of his coat".

She said that she recognised the man "as she had treated him earlier that evening" and challenged him.

The court was told that a staff nurse heard her pleas for help and she came to her aid only to be assaulted by Weir.

During an attempt to restrain him, the defendant fell to the floor and a number of purses and keys dropped out of his pockets.

Defence barrister Barry Gibson said Weir was "deeply ashamed of his behaviour and has asked that I personally apologise for his behaviour that particular evening".

He added that when interviewed by police Weir he had "no recollection" of the incident after taking a cocktail of drugs.

Judge Fowler said Weir had carried out "acts of violence against the very people who were caring for him" after he had overdosed on prescription tablets.

Weir was sentenced to 16 months, with eight months to be spent in custody and a further eight months on licence following his release from prison.

Judge Fowler QC ordered that this period in custody would not commence until September this year after Weir had finished his sentence for the breach of his licence conditions relating to a previous burglary.

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