Belfast Telegraph

Police tasered woman brandishing scissors at hospital, court told

'The officers alerted the armed response unit in Belfast to the incident as they, along with medical staff, tried to negotiate with the defendant to put the scissors down' (stock photo)
'The officers alerted the armed response unit in Belfast to the incident as they, along with medical staff, tried to negotiate with the defendant to put the scissors down' (stock photo)

By George Jackson

Armed police were called to a Northern Ireland A&E after a woman brandished scissors and became abusive, a court has heard.

Details of the stand-off between members of the PSNI's armed response unit and Leona Devlin at Altnagelvin Hospital on Sunday were disclosed during a special sitting of Londonderry Magistrates Court.

A police officer told District Judge Barney McElholm that the stand-off ended when members of the armed response unit, who had travelled from Belfast, tasered Devlin before she was arrested.

Devlin (37), from Spencer Road in the Waterside area of the city, appeared in court yesterday charged with committing disorderly behaviour in the hospital and attempted criminal damage of a hospital mirror.

The officer said the defendant was brought to A&E on Sunday after she was taken into custody by officers on Craigavon Bridge.

Police had been called to the bridge following a report from a member of the public of the defendant behaving in a concerning manner. The police witness said the defendant was very drunk when arrested.

In the hospital, she became extremely abusive to medical staff.

The officer said the A&E department was very busy at the time with both young and elderly patients being treated.

He said police officers asked the defendant to moderate her behaviour and language but she refused to do so.

As she was being treated by a doctor for lacerations to her arm, she grabbed a pair of scissors which then resulted in the stand-off.

The officers alerted the armed response unit in Belfast to the incident as they, along with medical staff, tried to negotiate with the defendant to put the scissors down.

When the armed police team arrived in the hospital, the defendant made forward movements towards them and head-butted a mirror before she was tasered and restrained.

A defence solicitor said the defendant's behaviour highlighted her psychiatric issues, which could only be dealt with in an appropriate centre with the appropriate medical professionals.

Mr McElholm said the legislation relating to mental health patients in England, Scotland and Wales was totally different to that in Northern Ireland where, he said, the facilities were well behind those in other parts of the UK.

"Here we have neither the facilities nor the legislation to do anything about it and this should be highlighted every day of the week," the District Judge continued.

"Those in Scotland, England and Wales with personal psychiatric disorders can get treatment in house. But here, there has been a complete abdication of political responsibility regarding mental health issues.

"In this jurisdiction, people have been completely abandoned whereas people with similar difficulties in other parts of the UK can access the appropriate help."

The defendant was remanded in custody for a videolink appearance on August 29.

Belfast Telegraph

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