Belfast Telegraph

Hospital hanging attempt 'a cry for help', court told

Donal Meehan, wearing a bloodied top, was granted bail over three charges relating to an incident at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald
Donal Meehan, wearing a bloodied top, was granted bail over three charges relating to an incident at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald

By Paul Higgins

A man refused psychiatric help from two hospitals tried to hang himself as a "cry for help", a court heard yesterday.

Newtownards Magistrates Court heard claims that staff in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital twice refused to help Donal Meehan (34), at one stage calling the police to remove him and his family, so he went to the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald.

Once again, staff refused to admit him, so as a "cry for help" he tried to hang himself in a side room.

Standing in the dock with a bandage on his right wrist, Meehan confirmed he understood the three charges against him.

Meehan, from Kinnaird Terrance in Belfast, is charged with causing criminal damage to a room at the Ulster Hospital, assaulting a nurse and having a weapon, namely window latches, on Wednesday.

A police constable told the court she believed she could connect Meehan to the offences and that police were objecting to bail on the grounds that he would commit further offences.

She said that the investigating officer had stated "Mr Meehan said that he didn't mind dying", so the fear of further offences was based "on his mental state".

District Judge Mark Hamill said he had "never heard" of window latches being classed as a weapon before.

The officer said Meehan had "barricaded himself in a room" at the hospital and when staff got in "he had caused extensive damage" and rather than being physically assaulted the nurse "feared for her own safety" when Meehan threatened her with them.

Defence solicitor Ciaran Moynagh told the court Meehan "has significant mental health issues" and outlined how his sister and mum had initially taken him to the RVH seeking treatment but were twice turned away.

"They did not admit him and called the police to remove them from the hospital," said the lawyer, adding when the women took Meehan to the Ulster Hospital "he was again refused care".

"When his sister was dealing with the health professionals he attempted to take his own life in a side room and had to be cut down," said Mr Moynagh, adding his family are "at their wits' end".

The lawyer said during police interviews Meehan told officers he "saw red" and submitted his actions had been "a cry for help and he just wanted to show the doctors how serious this was".

He told the court Meehan had been considering his actions and "realised this was totally inappropriate and extends apologies to the court" and hospital staff.

Mr Moynagh pleaded for bail so Meehan can be with his family and avail of a referral to the community mental health team.

Freeing Meehan on his own bail of £200, Mr Hamill ordered him to live with his mother, who must sign as a jail surety.

Adjourning the case until December 5, the judge told Meehan that "hopefully you can get some help with your mental health because that's the problem here, lack of provision".

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