A BALLYMENA man who was disorderly at Antrim Area Hospital where he spat towards a police officer is "so ashamed" he is now off drink and is a "virtual recluse," a defence solicitor said.
Jason Weir (31), of Drumtara, was sentenced at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, in connection with disorderly behaviour and assault on police on October 12 last year.
A prosecutor said the defendant had a head injury and had been taken to hospital by ambulance.
He was aggressive with staff and was attempting to leave prior to treatment.
At 5.40pm police found him with a "deep cut to top of his head" near the hospital and returned him to the Emergency Department.
Weir appeared to be intoxicated and back at the hospital his behaviour "deteriorated" and police had to warn him several times about his language and disruptive behaviour.
When handcuffed he shouted and swore and had to moved to another room for treatment and continued to be "disruptive with hospital staff and police who were making efforts to control his behaviour and treat his injury".
Weir spat at a police officer, Court News NI can report, from a distance of two feet.
The prosecutor added: "His behaviour continued to have an impact on hospital staff and members of the public in a highly pressurised emergency department".
Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said the defendant accepts there was "no justification whatsoever" for this behaviour.
The lawyer said Weir accepted his behaviour had been "appalling".
Mr Ballentine said the defendant was "grossly embarrassed" and ashamed and "wholeheartedly apologises".
The lawyer added that Weir has "given up drink totally" and "is so embarrassed that he has turned into a virtual recluse".
The court heard the defendant has sought help with health professionals and the Community Addiction Team.
The court was told Weir suffered a "serious brain injury" in 2015 when he was "attacked by third parties with hammers".
Regarding the hospital incident, Mr Ballentine said Weir had been drinking and "had been attacked and was found unconscious" and after waking up in hospital was "anxious and confused".
The court heard Weir has "enrolled in a local church".
District Judge Nigel Broderick said the courts have "consistently taken a very dim view of those who act in a disorderly fashion in a hospital setting".
The judge told Weir: "Your behaviour was wholly unacceptable. Not just were you shouting and swearing but your language was quite disgraceful.
"Lots of people get brought ot hospital with injures but they don't all react in the way you did."
The judge said alcohol could not be used as an excuse.
Judge Broderick continued: "Then you spit at a police officer. Quite disgusting to spit at anybody let alone a police officer who is only doing their job and trying to maintain order in a difficult situation.
"We all know that hospitals, especially A&E Departments, are under pressure and the last thing they need are peopel turning up drunk and abusive.
"There must not only be punishment for these offences but there must also be a deterrent so that anybody must understand that if you behave in this way in a hospital setting they can readily expect a custodial sentence".
Weir was given a three months jail sentence and had bail for appeal fixed in the sum of £500 with a condition that he is "not to be under influence of alcohol in public".
- Main picture: Antrim Area Hospital.