Tuesday, 01 December 2015

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'Bloodbath' at Carlisle hospital as woman attacks police - court

A hospital nurse has told how a patient yelled abuse at medics and police officers who were desperately trying to save her life.

Cumberland Infirmary photo
The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

Staff feared Shirley McKnight, 29, would bleed to death from a serious foot wound without urgent treatment. But doctors at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle were only able to treat her after she was sedated, city magistrates heard.

The court heard accounts of how McKnight repeatedly swore at paramedics, police officers and nursing staff who were trying to help her on Sunday, July 17 last year.

At one point, she told an officer who was left covered in her blood that she had hepatitis C, a serious infectious disease that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

She was also trying to bite the two police officers who were attempting to restrain her, magistrates heard.

McKnight, of Partridge Place, Carlisle, who failed to attend her own trial, denied assaulting a police officer but was convicted by magistrates. Prosecutor Vicky Atkinson told magistrates that police were called to an incident in the afternoon in Lime Street, Denton Holme.

They found a small crowd of people trying to help McKnight, who had suffered bad cuts to her foot.

She became abusive to paramedics said the prosecutor. At hospital, McKnight continued to be abusive, shouting and swearing.

Among the witnesses was A&E sister Diane Hutchinson. She said of McKnight: “She was very abusive. She seemed to be intoxicated. She was very threatening towards everybody.”

She was bleeding so heavily, said the nurse, that McKnight could have died without treatment.

“The blood was dripping off the trolley,” said sister Hutchinson.

As staff tried to reason with McKnight, she jumped up off the trolley and ran towards some double doors, leaving a trail of blood.

Banging her head on the doors, she seemed stunned, and the police officers got hold of her and helped her into a wheelchair, she said.

McKnight continued swearing at everybody, said the nurse, who then saw the defendant kick PC Ruth Coates in the face and punch her chest as the officer tried to help her on to a trolley.

McKnight also tried to throw her blood-soaked top at one of them. Staff then managed to sedate McKnight so that doctors could treat her wound.

Asked what the A&E department looked like afterwards, nurse Hutchinson said: “There was blood everywhere. There were patients in other cubicles who said they were terrified.”

PC Coates also gave her account of what happened.

She said: “I had blood all over my arms; my hands; my face, and body armour.”

She said a sergeant arrived to help her and fellow PC Charlotte MacGillivray to restrain McKnight, who tried to bite them, and made threats.

“She [McKnight] then shouted she had hepatitis C.”

The officer was tested for the illness and for other blood-borne conditions such as HIV which only last week had come back clear.

She said: “It was very worrying. It was one of the most horrific incidents I have been to.”

Magistrates found the assault proved.

McKnight also denied causing a nuisance and disturbance on NHS premises and magistrates recorded a not guilty verdict after it was pointed out that the charge included a condition that the defendant refused to leave the hospital when asked – something she had not done.

Magistrates issued an arrest warrant for McKnight in order for her to be sentenced.


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