Drunk jailed for hitting nurse

A FORMER jockey is today behind bars after he admitted lashing out at a nurse in hospital when he was drunk.

A FORMER jockey is today behind bars after he admitted lashing out at a nurse in hospital when he was drunk.

Harold Ballantine, 54, of Belstead Road, Ipswich, claimed he could not remember punching a senior staff nurse in Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency department who was treating him as he was very drunk.

Magistrates at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court sent him to prison for nearly five months for the offence, which happened October 25. Two days later police charged him for being drunk in a public place after he was found slumped in a doorway in Hamilton Road.

Prosecuting David Hutson told the court on Wednesdaythat when the nurse had finished treating him and said he could go, Ballantine started swearing and became agitated.

The court heard how the defendant then punched the nurse on the arm, before trying to take away his security bleeper. Security officers arrived and then the police were called.

Mitigating Ian Duckworth said: “He is well known to the courts. He cannot remember why he went to hospital and has no recollection of what went on.

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“He is either going to drink himself to death or he has to want to help himself. He has got an entrenched drinking problem. He is always pleasant and polite when sober.”

Ballantine's successful career as a flat jockey led him to mix with the rich and famous including Sheikh Mohammed. However injuries from a series of falls meant he was forced to retire.

Bernard Hindes, chairman of the magistrates bench, said: “This nurse was doing his job. He was in a position of trust and you assaulted that nurse.”

Ballantine was given 16 weeks in custody for the offence, with an extra three weeks added on which was activated from a previous suspended sentence. There was no separate penalty for being drunk in a public place.

Ipswich Hospital today welcomed the sentence.

A spokeswoman said: “The hospital has a zero tolerance towards violence, harassment, bullying or abuse in any form so has adopted a proactive stance in addressing and reducing it. The hospital therefore treats any form of attack on staff extremely seriously, pursuing prosecutions wherever possible. This ensures that staff work in a safe environment, without fear of violence so they can continue to deliver the highest standards of clinical care to patients."

Do you work in the community and feel vulnerable to attacks? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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