A PATIENT who struck a nurse with a crutch while being treated at University Hospital Limerick received a suspended prison sentence as he is unable to carry out community service.
Last September, Terence Coughlan, aged 48, of South Claughan Road, Garryowen, who uses a crutch to aid his walking, admitted assaulting the nurse during an incident on March 14 last.
Judge Denis McLoughlin was told the defendant was being treated by a triage nurse when he struck her in the face resulting in swelling over her eye.
In mitigation, solicitor John Devane said his client was a “decent man” who was “disorientated” at the time and did not mean to hit the nurse.
However, after hearing details of what happened, Judge Denis McLoughlin said he considered it to be a serious offence which merited some form of punishment.
“Nurses have a difficult enough job without people assaulting them during the course of their work,” the judge commented adding that “no excuse could be put before the court for hitting a nurse - none whatsoever”.
Noting that the defendant has no recorded convictions since 1998, he ordered that he engage with the Probation Services to facilitate the completion of a community service suitability report.
The judge indicated he was considering a sentence of 100 hours of community service in lieu of two months imprisonment.
During a review of the case, Judge Eugene O’Kelly noted that in a report, the Probation Service had deemed the defendant was not a suitable candidate for community service due to his ill health.
Imposing sentence he said he viewed such behaviour as unacceptable.
“I want him to realise that ordinarily the court would take a very severe approach,” he said.
However, he accepted submissions from Mr Devane that his client had co-operated with the Probation Service and was anxious to give some form of restorative justice but was not capable of doing so.
In the circumstances, the judge said he would not impose an immediate prison sentence.
He sentenced Mr Coughlan to two months imprisonment, suspending the sentence for nine months on condition he stays out of trouble during that time.