Northern Ireland news

Psychiatric nurse jailed for patient punch

Patrick Maguire, from Tollymore Brae, Newcastle was given a nine-month prison sentence yesterday

A MALE psychiatric nurse who broke a patient’s nose when he punched him three times has been given a nine-month prison sentence.

Patrick Maguire, from Tollymore Brae, Newcastle admitted causing actual bodily harm to the male mental health patient.

Judge Patrick Lynch QC told Craigavon Crown Court it was "with some regret" that he was sending him to jail, but "the public must have confidence that patients be treated as dignified human beings".

Maguire also admitted wilfully neglecting the patient by failing to get him immediate medical attention and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

His former co-accused and colleague John Kelly (66), from Newtownhamilton Road, Armagh, was acquitted by a jury of ABH and wilfully neglecting and ill-treating the patient.

The court had heard how the patient, who suffers from a bipolar disorder, was admitted to the Bluestone unit at Craigavon Area Hospital experiencing an "episode with psychotic features".

The patient became "extremely distressed" at the hospital’s emergency department, "threatening a member of staff", before being admitted to the psychiatric unit where, in the lead up to the incident, he set fire to a bin and threw a chair through the window.

During the early hours of 27 October 2017, the man was standing in a corridor of the unit asking for another cigarette when Maguire took him by the elbow to guide him back to bed.

The patient then "threw a punch at the defendant".

"In retaliation" Maguire "punched him three times, full blows" to the face, causing his nose to bleed profusely.

The judge said while the incident was captured on CCTV, it was unclear whether it was the punches that felled the patient or that he was put to the floor by Maguire and Mr Kelly.

A female staff nurse who arrived asked what had happened and was told "the injured party punched the accused and during the procedure, was accidentally hit in the face by a knee".

A doctor examined the patient and an x-ray found his nose was broken.

Documents were seized from the ward after Maguire himself made a report but he had "repeated the lying account given to the staff nurse which gives rise to the count of perverting justice".

Judge Lynch said the defence had submitted Maguire's retaliation had been an "impulsive reaction" but accepted "what happened was out of proportion".

He said the defence had highlighted Maguire, a nurse for 38 years, was "under immense pressure" at the time, "working additional hours in a hospital that was understaffed".

The judge told Maguire he was taking into account his clear record and "exemplary" NHS service, character evidence from colleagues who spoke of his "professionalism".

He said by pleading guilty, Maguire had acknowledged he had "fallen from the high standard expected of care workers".

But he added "it is however with some regret that I must say that the public interest in maintaining confidence in care workers must be reflected in the sentence imposed by the court".

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