Belfast Telegraph

Man who assaulted hospital staff and threatened to dig up victim's dead mum avoids jail

By Alan Erwin

A man who assaulted four security staff at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital and threatened to dig up one victim's dead mother has avoided prison.

Stephen Kennedy was given 18 months probation and 100 hours community service for the violent outburst where he kicked out and tried to bite staff.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard the 34-year-old also threatened to attack the teenage daughter of a staff member who described it as among the worst cases of verbal abuse in his time at the hospital.

Kennedy, of Saintfield Road in Castlereagh, later apologised for his behaviour, claiming he had no memory of the incident.

Police were called to the hospital on October 4 last year amid reports of a violent man in the Accident and Emergency Department.

A prosecution lawyer said Kennedy assaulted four security guards who tried to intervene when he became loud and abusive.

He squared up to them, kicking and attempting to bite them as efforts were made to restrain him.

"One of the injured parties said he had worked there for 34 years and described it as one of the worst cases of verbal abuse he had encountered," the prosecutor added.

"He said (Kennedy) threatened to attack his daughter, and to dig up his dead mother - he hoped his mother had died from cancer."

During police interviews the defendant said he had no recollection of the events.

He claimed his last memory was drinking in Belfast city centre, and then waking up in a police cell.

A defence lawyer stressed there was no excuse for his client's actions.

"He has instructed me to apologise unreservedly to all individuals for his conduct that evening," the solicitor said.

"At that juncture he was completely off the rails, and even living on the streets sometimes."

The court heard, however, that Kennedy has since turned his life around. He is now in a relationship and is due to move into a new flat.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall had previously deferred sentencing on the four common assaults and a further count to disorderly behaviour.

Recognising Kennedy has made progress and kept out of trouble in the intervening months, she decided to impose the combined probation and community service order.

Judge Bagnall also noted: "There's no doubt that it's a very bad episode that could easily have been immediate custody."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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