Belfast Telegraph

Patient sexually assaulted A&E nurse as she tried to treat him, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A man rushed to hospital after bingeing on drink and drugs exposed himself and sexually assaulted a nurse trying to help him, Belfast's High Court has heard.

Joseph Gallagher head-butted walls, screamed obscenities and spat at medical staff as they attempted to remove needles from his arm, prosecutors said.

His alleged outbreak of aggression at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry followed a previous suspected racially influenced attack with which he is also accused.

It was claimed that police spotted him punching a Swedish man as a co-accused stamped on his head and body.

The victim was set upon at Grove Place in the city after his partner and her mother were allegedly assaulted.

A judge was told the attackers, mistaking their nationality, had shouted at them: "Russian b******."

Gallagher, 20, of Glenvale Road, Derry, was refused bail by a judge who ruled: "The public needs to be protected."

He faces charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, disorderly behaviour, and two counts of common assault over the April 27 incident.

Prosecuting barrister Nicola Auret confirmed: "Police do believe there's a racial aspect to it."

Gallagher claimed he could not recall what happened, stating that he had taken four diazepam pills and had "the memory of a fish".

He was released but failed to turn up for court, only being detained again after being brought to Altnagelvin Hospital last Wednesday.

New charges of sexual assault, indecent behaviour, indecent exposure, common assault and disorderly behaviour have been brought again him over that incident.

He had been brought to accident and emergency suffering a possible drink and drugs-induced seizure.

According to Ms Auret police were called to help medics struggling to bring him under control and remove needles from his arm.

Gallagher is alleged to have shouted obscenities at staff and other patients, kicked furniture around, head-butted walls, rolled around the floor and ran round the ward flailing his arms about.

The court heard he also alleged grabbed a nurse in her crotch area, exposed himself to another female member of staff and tried to strike a male colleague.

"Despite his behaviour staff continued to try and treat him for 20 minutes until they no longer could do so," Ms Auret said.

"CCTV was seized which backs up what we say was the applicant's outrageous actions in the hospital to both staff and public."

Gallagher again claimed to have no memory of even being in Altnagelvin.

He told police he had blacked out after drinking a ten-glass bottle of vodka and eight cans of beer on top of his medication.

Defence counsel stressed that Gallagher denied any racial animosity over the first incident.

Turning to the hospital allegations, she said: "He has expressed shock and disgust at the behaviour outlined. He said he frankly hasn't stopped thinking about it."

The barrister added: "He had consumed huge amounts of alcohol, combined with a cocktail of medication which caused him to act in a completely manic way.

Details of his long-term battle with anxiety and depression were also disclosed, including two recent attempted suicides.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice Gillen held that public protection must come first.

He said: "Medical staff throughout this province are all too often exposed to abusive and violent behaviour.

"The stoicism staff present in the face of this behaviour is a testimony to their dedication and bravery."

Acknowledging Gallagher has not been convicted, the judge added: "The very least the courts can do is ensure not only they are protected, but those that offend in this manner receive extremely heavy and severe prison sentences."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph