Belfast Telegraph

Jail for drunk who tried to steal ambulance and hit Derry A&E worker

A homeless man who admitted trying to steal an ambulance from outside the Emergency Department at Altnagelvin Hospital was yesterday jailed for five months at Londonderry Magistrates Court
A homeless man who admitted trying to steal an ambulance from outside the Emergency Department at Altnagelvin Hospital was yesterday jailed for five months at Londonderry Magistrates Court

By George Jackson

A homeless man who admitted trying to steal an ambulance from outside the Emergency Department at Altnagelvin Hospital was yesterday jailed for five months at Londonderry Magistrates Court.

Kenneth Hazlett (51), from the Tullyally area of the city, also admitted assaulting a staff member in the hospital, assaulting a police officer, resisting a police officer and disorderly behaviour last Saturday afternoon.

District Judge Barney McElholm said Hazlett's behaviour in assaulting the hospital staff member who tried to stop him from driving off in the ambulance was absolutely outrageous.

A police officer said Hazlett, who had 151 previous criminal convictions, 31 of them for road traffic offences, had to be both handcuffed and have limb restraints placed on him in the hospital.

The police witness said officers responded to a report from the accident and emergency staff of the defendant trying to drive off in an ambulance. The vehicle was parked outside the department with its engine running but as Hazlett tried to drive off, the automatic braking system deactivated the engine.

A staff member got into the ambulance and tried to remove Hazlett who swung three punches at the staff member, all of which missed. However, Hazlett then followed the man back into the emergency department where he punched him on the back of the neck.

The police located Hazlett in the hospital grounds and as they approached him he adopted a fighting stance and kicked one of the officers in the leg.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said Hazlett had just been released from prison days before the offences and when he was given his grant money he spent it all on alcohol, as a result of which he had no memory of the hospital incidents.

"Since his prison release he has been sleeping rough in a subway close to the hospital. This is one of the worst such hospital incidents of its kind and equally it is horrific to think what might have happened if the engine had not cut out," Mr Quigley said.

"Clearly he has alcohol issues and he is classified as a vulnerable adult and he had to have an appropriate adult with him in the police station. He couldn't be interviewed for 24 hours after his arrest because of the amount of alcohol he'd consumed."

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