Mater Hospital casualty unit axeman avoids prison
A man who went into a Belfast hospital armed with a hatchet has been given a four-month suspended jail sentence.
Terence Boyle was told he would have been going straight to prison if the small axe had been produced on the wards.
Boyle (52), of Whiterock Road, Belfast, pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.
He was arrested after entering the Mater Hospital in the north of the city last August.
It is understood the hatchet was concealed during the incident.
Boyle admitted the offence before a contested hearing was due to get under way yesterday.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard he went to the Mater after a relative had been assaulted and admitted to accident and emergency.
He was said to have armed himself because he was concerned the assailants were still in the area.
In a plea for leniency, defence counsel said Boyle has already been punished by losing his job over the incident.
District Judge George Conner told him he was fortunate the hatchet had not been brandished.
"Anyone who takes a weapon into a hospital must expect a custodial sentence," he said.
Giving Boyle credit for his plea, the judge decided to suspend the four-month term for 12 months.
He added: "There will be an order for destruction of the weapon."