27/08/2008

Charges After Patients Flee Hospital 'Gunman'

A court has been told that a Londonderry 'gunman' was drunk - and had not intended to use violence - when he sparked a major security alert that led to the A&E Department of Altnagelvin Hospital being cleared on Tuesday night.

Martin Thomas Boyd, 46, a landscape gardener from the Fountain estate, appeared in court in Limavady today charged with possessing a BB gun with intent.

The defendant was remanded on his own bail of £250 to appear in court again next month.

A detective constable told the court that the defendant had bought the BB gun yesterday for his son at the Auld Lammas fair in Ballycastle.

He said the defendant was drunk when he went to have a broken arm attended to at the hospital and was spotted with the 'gun' tucked into his waistband.
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As a result, all the emergency patients were evacuated with safety procedures at the Londonderry hospital being further reviewed today.

A BB is a type of air gun designed to shoot projectiles called BBs after the Birdshot pellet of approximately the same size.

Meanwhile, the Head of Accident and Emergency at the Londonderry hospital, Alan McKinney, said the incident caused alarm among staff and patients.

"One of our patients in the waiting room noticed another patient waiting for treatment was carrying a gun openly. She was concerned about her safety and the safety of those around her and she alerted staff.

"Staff put the patient into an isolation space and evacuated departments around him," he said.

"Something like this has not happened in my memory. I have been at this department for 18 or 19 years and working in A&E as a job for 25/30 years."

Mr McKinney added that it is difficult to assess all the risks A&E staff come across.

"We have got to have open doors," he insisted.

(BMcC)

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