Belfast Telegraph

Co Down man who assaulted police and paramedics bailed

By Paul Higgins

A man who attacked two paramedics and urinated over the back of an ambulance has been jailed for 15 months.

As well as punching and pushing two paramedics, 25-year-old Kristopher Graham Cairns later assaulted two police officers while "shouting and swearing" in the Ulster Hospital's busy A&E department on Christmas Eve.

Imposing consecutive jail sentences totalling 15 months at Newtownards Magistrates Court, District Judge Mark Hamill warned that unless a defendant has a substantial mental abnormality, if anyone chooses to assault health workers whether nurses, doctors or paramedics "there's no way in the world you can escape custody".

However, he was later released on bail.

At an earlier hearing Cairns, from Old Market Square in Ards, pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting ambulance workers, two of assaulting police officers, using disorderly behaviour at the Ulster Hospital and causing criminal damage to an ambulance on December 24 last year.

Opening the facts yesterday, a prosecuting lawyer told the court that police were called to help paramedics who were treating Cairns in the Bloomfield area of Bangor after he had punched one paramedic and pushed his colleague.

"He entered the rear of the vehicle and urinated inside the ambulance which had to be withdrawn from service," said the lawyer, who added that the officers saw urine "all over the rear of the ambulance".

Arrested and taken to the Ulster Hospital emergency department, Cairns was disruptive and "repeatedly swore" in the busy waiting room despite numerous warnings.

Taken to the triage room, Cairns "lashed out at police," headbutting one officer and continuing to kick out and swear as he was being restrained, "causing additional stress" to waiting patients. Arrested and interviewed, Cairns claimed he had no recollection of the incident.

Defence counsel Conor Holmes conceded Cairns "knows custody is the starting point", but asked the judge to consider deferring passing sentence to allow the authorities to monitor his behaviour.

Mr Hamill said, however, that with no mental health background, Cairns "is going to go to prison - the only issue is how long".

"It doesn't require words from me to outline how appalling it is to do this to ambulance workers and to an ambulance itself," said the judge.

Describing the incident at the ambulance as "scene one", Judge Hamill said the incident at the hospital was "scene two" when Cairns "kicked off again".

For scene one, the judge imposed 10 months for criminal damage and five months for assaulting the paramedics, commenting that the six-month maximum sentence for assault "should be more".

Turning to scene two, Cairns was handed five-month terms for assaulting police and using disorderly behaviour.

However the latter sentences were ordered to be served consecutively with those handed out for scene one, meaning Cairns would serve 15 months.

Shortly after he was taken to the cells, Cairns was freed on his own bail of £500 pending an appeal of his sentence.

Belfast Telegraph

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