Belfast Telegraph

Man attempted to take his own life in Ulster Hospital, court told

Donal Meehan
Donal Meehan

By Paul Higgins

A man who tried to hang himself in a hospital A&E has appeared in court charged with three offences arising from the incident.

Standing in the dock of Newtownards Magistrates' Court with a bandage around his his right wrist, 34-year-old Donal Patrick Meehan confirmed that he understood the 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 November 6 this year.

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

She said that having spoken with the investigating officer, “the officer states that 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 and the officer explained that Meehan had “barricaded himself in a room” at the hospital and when staff finally 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 Royal Victoria Hospital seeking treatment but were twice turned away.

“They did not admit him and called the police to remove them from the hospital,” revealed the lawyer, adding that 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 that his family are “at their wits end, they’re extremely concerned.”

The lawyer further revealed that during police interviews, Meehan told officers he “saw red” and Mr Moynagh 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 that Meehan had been considering his actions and “now realised that this was totally inappropriate and extends apologies to the court” and hospital staff.”

“My submission is that prison is not the best place for this man,” Mr Moynagh pleaded, urging District Judge Mark Hamill to grant jail so that Meehan can be with his family and can avail of a referral to the community mental health team.

Freeing Meehan on his own bail of £200, Judge Hamill ordered him to live with his mother who would have to sign as a jail surety and also told Meehan he would have to abide by whatever recommendations his GP or health team made.

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

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair please call Lifeline 24/7 free-phone crisis helpline on 0808 808 8000

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