27 Jun 2022

Woman lay across hospital pedestrian crossing, Longford court hears

Woman lay across hospital pedestrian crossing, Longford court hears

A judge has told a woman who lay across a pedestrian crossing at Mullingar General Hospital, interrupting traffic as a result, she risks spending a “number of months” at the Dóchas Centre women's prison.

Judge Seamus Hughes issued the warning to Bernadette Earley, 6 Springfield, Mullingar at last week's District Court sitting following her arrest less than 24 hours earlier.

Sergeant Orla Keenan gave evidence of having arrested Ms Earley at 8pm last Monday night (April 26).

She said the 62-year-old replied: “They shouldn't have discharged me,” after caution.

She said Ms Earley had been under the care of Galro, an organisation based in Westmeath that provides assisted living to its clients.

Sgt Keenan said on that basis, the prosecution were open to granting Ms Earley bail until a later court sitting in May on the proviso she commits no further offences.

The service's manager, David Nolan said the body was one which provided a care service to people who can live independently but who, at the same time, need support with their daily needs.

He said Ms Earley had been with the service for a number of months, but said concerns had been raised as to Ms Earley's conduct towards support staff at the organisation.

These included, he revealed, three “active investigations” in connection to alleged assaults being perpetrated on staff members over the past week.

Asked by Judge Hughes whether Ms Earley's manner was due to an underlying mental health problem, Mr Nolan said he was satisfied the defendant's demeanour was more in keeping with behaviourial as opposed to any psychiatric disorders.

“She has been assessed by mental health (officials) and they tell me its emotional personality disorder, so it's behavioural and not a mental health issue,” he said.

Defence solicitor John Quinn said there was no denying his client's need to gain control of her present situation either by way of medication or counselling.

Ms Earley, who watched on from the public gallery at the back of the courtroom, claimed she was not being accommodated by the Mullingar based professional support service.

“I'm not getting the services that I require,” she told the court.

“I haven't been showered for the last week or more. I feel itchy and sore.

“They took all my shower gels and everything out of my house.”

Mr Nolan flatly rejected those allegations however, insisting Ms Earley had in fact refused a shower when offered one by staff.

Shouting back: “Don't tell lies,” in response, Judge Hughes interjected by asking Ms Earley whether she was verbally abusive to staff on a consistent basis.

“It works both ways,” she retorted.

“They can be (abusive) with me.

“It's not a walk in shower, I might slip and fall.

“They abuse me just as much, it's two against one.”

Appearing more and more irked by each passing moment, Judge Hughes offered up some cautionary words of advice to Ms Earley.

“You need to start changing your ways,” he told her.

“You are in court because you are charged with lying down on a footpath outside Mullingar Hospital.

“If you want further attention or public resources spent on you, you ask for it but you can't take the law into your hands and block traffic at a pedestrian crossing.”

Judge Hughes said should Ms Earley opt against taking on board those words, there was only one outcome awaiting her.

“I will send you to the Dóchas for a number of months and you can be attended to by the prison staff up there who will give you a lot less attention than the Galro staff so appreciate the small blessings you have received,” he added.

Ms Earley's initial reaction was to indicate she would not be signing any bail bond issued by the court.

However, after a brief consultation with Mr Quinn at the rear of the courtroom, the Mullingar woman changed her mind.

She was consequently remanded on continuing bail until a sitting of Mullingar District Court on May 6.

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