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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Knifeman sentence was 'one-off'
The attack happened at the Ulster Hospital
The attack happened at the Ulster Hospital on New Year's Day
The NI Court Service has released remarks made by a magistrate who gave a man one year's probation for holding a knife to a doctor's throat.

David Hague, 35, from Islandview Gardens, Greyabbey, also threatened to kill the female doctor at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, in December 2005.

Hospital chiefs said the sentence failed to give the right message.

However, magistrate Mark Hamill said the case was a "one-off" and there was an "unusual" medical background.

Hague was sentenced on 8 September, but in an unprecedented move on Thursday, the Court Service released comments Mr Hamill made in court that day.

Mr Hamill said it had been an "extremely difficult sentencing exercise" relating to the defendant, who is an ex-soldier and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.

Mr Hamill said Hague had threatened to kill the doctor unless she "gave him a lethal injection".

"Normally I find sentencing in cases of assault on hospital staff extremely simple," he said.

Sentencing in this case is a one-off and attacks on hospital staff will be met with lengthy sentences of immediate imprisonment
Mark Hamill
Resident Magistrate

"I have, in the past, imposed severe custodial sentences and am on record as saying that such sentences are inevitable unless there is a persuasive medical background relating to the mental health of the perpetrator.

"In this bizarre case, where the defendant was, in effect, attempting to commit suicide, there is an unusual and persuasive medical background."

Mr Hamill said that Hague had a clear record, had pleaded guilty, and the maximum sentence he could give was 12 months.

He said at the forefront of his mind was the "terrible ordeal" suffered by the doctor.

"I also make it clear that sentencing in this case is a one-off and that attacks on hospital staff will be met with lengthy sentences of immediate imprisonment, subject to the proviso I have referred to earlier," he said.

Knifeman sentence 'too lenient'
11 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Man charged with attack on doctor
02 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland

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