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Avoiding jail: Ex-nurse Denise Gray given suspended sentence for breaching her ASBO

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Sentenced: Denise Gray leaving Antrim Courthouse yesterday

Sentenced: Denise Gray leaving Antrim Courthouse yesterday

Sentenced: Denise Gray leaving Antrim Courthouse yesterday

A former nurse who breached her ASBO by abusing hospital staff has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Denise Gray appeared before Antrim Magistrates Court yesterday.

The court heard that on February 20 this year, Gray (57) was brought by ambulance to the A&E at Antrim Area Hospital.

Initially the former nurse, who is an alcoholic, was being treated "in majors, however, she moved to the observation ward and became disruptive to other patients".

A prosecuting lawyer described how Gray was "pulling curtains back" which surround the beds of other patients and one family had to tell nursing staff her behaviour was "becoming distressed".

"She continued to cause a disturbance," said the lawyer, adding that while Gray had gone outside for a smoke, the sister went to check on her and was then "able to smell alcohol from the bottle she was drinking from".

By the time Gray came back inside, police had arrived at the hospital and arrested Gray for breaching her ASBO which runs to November 2022.

That ASBO was put in place last November after a judge heard how Gray had been involved in "196 incidents of abuse towards the emergency services and abuse of the emergency services" with a cycle revolving around making phone calls and drinking alcohol.

As part of the ASBO, Gray is banned from harassing the emergency services including making non-emergency phone calls and she must leave hospitals if asked to.

The latest incident came just over a week after Gray, from High Street in Ballymena, appeared in court for similar offences.

In court yesterday, defence counsel Neil Moore said it was a "sad set of circumstances" that had led Gray to where she is now.

He submitted that had this offence been dealt with in March along with the February offences, the jail sentence she had received "would not have been materially different".

Imposing a three month jail sentence but suspending it for a year, District Judge Nigel Broderick warned Gray, who appeared in court on videolink from her solicitors office, not to reoffend or she would going to jail.

Belfast Telegraph