Women sentenced over Londonderry hospital attack

Londonderry Magistrates Court
Image caption The attack was witnessed by other patients and visitors in the ward

Two women have been sentenced for assaulting a seriously ill male patient at Altnagelvin hospital.

Biddy Mongan, 24, and Eileen Stokes, 30, pleaded guilty to assaulting patient Paddy Mongan and three members of the intensive care unit staff in January.

Mongan is from Stanley's Walk, Derry, and Stokes from Mourne Park in Newtownstewart, County Tyrone.

Both women were given suspended jail terms.

A prosecution solicitor told the court that Mr Mongan was the partner of the defendant Stokes and the brother of the defendant, Mongan.

He said the injured party had been admitted to hospital with serious head injuries. He was unconscious in an induced coma when the two drunk defendants attacked him as he lay on his bed attached to drips in Ward 2.

'Unstable'

The prosecutor said the defendants had earlier been verbally abusive and aggressive to staff when they were refused entry to the ward.

They were told only two visitors were permitted at any time and that family members were already at Mr Mongan's bedside.

During the assault, the defendants punched Mr Mongan on the head and pulled at his fluid drips. As a result of the assault, Mr Mongan's condition became unstable and his pulse rate increased.

The attack was witnessed by other patients and visitors in the ward.

The prosecution solicitor said during the attack a doctor leaned over Mr Mongan's head in an attempt to protect him.

He said ICU staff members with the help of other colleagues who left their patients to come to their assistance, managed to force Stokes and Mongan out of the ward.

A defence solicitor said the attack was as bad as it could get and nothing he could say could diminish the seriousness of what happened.

He said Mongan had spent the equivalent of four months in custody while on remand and Stokes the equivalent of three months in custody while on remand on the charges.

'Professionalism'

In their drunken state, the two woman, somehow believed the hospital staff had conspired together to keep Mr Mongan from waking up, he said.

He said the intention of the defendants was to awaken Mr Mongan.

Mr Quigley said the only two good aspects of the incident were thanks to the intervention and professionalism of the medical staff, Paddy Mongan made a full recovery.

Also, the two defendants had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and deserved credit for the full admissions.

Imposing the suspended sentences, the district judge said it was an extremely serious incident that could have had fatal consequences for Mr Mongan.

He said the ICU staff should be commended for the way they reacted to an incident that occurred in a hospital, which should be a place of sanctuary for staff, patients and visitors.

He told Stokes and Mongan that their behaviour was "utterly disgraceful" and that they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

He imposed a four-month jail sentence on Mongan, suspended for three years and a three-month sentence on Stokes, suspended for two years.

The judge said he took into consideration that Stokes had already served the equivalent of a three-month sentence while in custody and Mongan the equivalent of a four-month sentence.

He said the maximum sentence he could impose in the case was six months but because both women had made early admissions they were entitled to a discount on their sentence of up to one third.

He said he was imposing the suspended sentences to emphasise the community's displeasure at their behaviour.