PICTURE : MARK JAMIESON
A teenager, who sank a bottle of Sambuca along with twelve tablets and then regained consciousness in a moving ambulance where he punched a paramedic who ‘possibly saved his life’, has avoided jail.
Jordan McLester (19), of the Simon Community in Coleraine’s Mount Street Mews, had wrestled with the ambulance worker on the floor of the vehicle taking him to hospital, punching the ambulanceman on the head, and had spat at him.
At Coleraine Magistrates Court last October McLester was given a three months jail term but although he accepted his guilt, bail was fixed to appeal the jail sentence.
At the County Court in Coleraine, the appeal was heard this week and the defendant has avoided going in to custody after his conviction was affirmed but the sentence was varied to become a two year Probation Order with a condition that McLester seeks addiction treatment.
The earlier court heard the paramedic was left with injuries to his head and ribs along with bruising and had to go off work. McLester continued to be disorderly when he arrived at Coleraine’s Causeway Hospital.
Last year the defendant had pleaded guilty to charges of assaulting an ambulance worker; disorderly behaviour at the hospital; resisting police; assaulting two police officers and causing criminal damage to a police cell.
A prosecutor had told the Magistrates Court hearing that at 2.55am on August 24, 2017, police were called to the hospital to assist ambulance and hospital staff after an ambulance crew picked up McLester at Mount Street in an intoxicated state.
He was unconscious but came round in the ambulance and struck out and punched an ambulance man to the head. McLester then tried to remove a strap securing him in a stretcher and when the worker tried to restrain him there was a struggle in the back of the moving ambulance and he was left with injuries after also being subjected to verbal abuse and being spat at.
The prosecutor said police met the ambulance at the Emergency Department where the defendant locked himself in a disabled toilet and shouted and swore and headbutted a wall.
He was asked to calm down and when he came out he continued to punch and headbutt walls whilst shouting. McLester then ran off into the hospital grounds and in the middle of a road he lashed out kicking and punching and and was verbally abusive to police. One officer was struck on the leg and the other on the arm but were uninjured.
Staff declined to treat McLester because of his behaviour and when he was taken to a police cell he spat blood and saliva which cost £120 to clean.
Defence solicitor John Murphy had told last year’s Magistrates Court hearing his client was aware his behaviour had been “disgraceful” but that the defendant had no memory of the incident because of his intoxication. The lawyer said McLester had penned a letter to ambulance staff apologising.
Mr Murphy said the defendant was ashamed and his actions had been “totally out of character” and he “appreciates how difficult it is for ambulance personnel”.
Mr Murphy said the defendant had addiction issues but “realises his behaviour was beyond The Pale”.
District Judge Liam McNally had told last October’s court he had no doubt that McLester was probably “out of it” but he would have to pay the consequences for his actions.
He said it was a difficult case to deal with because on the one hand the defendant had a clear record; had pleaded guilty at an early opportunity and when he had sobered up had written a letter of apology to the ambulanceman.
However the judge said, “the darker side of the coin” was that McLester had consumed a bottle of Sambuca and twelve tablets which rendered him unconscious
Judge McNally said an ambulance arrived to assist him, “possibly even to save your life, and when you come to the reward for the ambulance worker was that you thumped him, wrestled him to the floor and spat at him”.
At the hospital, the judge said, McLester had locked himself in a disabled toilet before assaulting police officers and spitting at them.
Jailing the defendant for three months last October, the judge said there were some offences which were so serious they merited custody. He said people “must get the message” that even if they have a clear record, if they allow themselves to be in such a situation were they are unconscious with “drink and drugs,” such assaults on ambulance workers would not be tolerated.
However, the sentence has now been varied upon appeal.