Ipswich Hospital patient admits damaging ECG machine after throwing chair because he could not get lift home

Ipswich Magistrates.

Ipswich Magistrates. - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich Hospital patient has been ordered to pay just £300 compensation after breaking a heart monitoring machine worth around £6,000 because staff would not arrange a lift home for him.

Michael Barclay, of The Wheelwrights, Trimley St Mary, had been treated for a fractured toe after taking a legal high. The 39-year-old admitted criminal damage when he appeared before South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court.

Prosecutor Ian Devine said Barclay had been taken to Ipswich Hospital for treatment on Monday and was discharged at 8.30am the same day.

Barclay asked staff for a lift home but was informed they were unable to help him.

Mr Devine said Barclay made the same request to a number of members of staff, but was given the same answer.

Barclay then asked them to call the police, but they said it was not their responsibility to give him a lift home.

Barclay became angry, initially picking up a pair of scissors and throwing them on the floor.

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He then picked up a chair and threw it at the electrocardiogram (ECG) machine causing a dent in the top and damaging two pins, which were bent out of shape.

Mr Devine said it was anticipated the damage would be quite expensive to repair and the hospital was likely to have to hire another machine. The cost of the damage was unknown at the time of the court case.

David Allan, representing Barclay, conceded his client had a large number of previous convictions, but said they were at a time when he was homeless and an alcoholic.

The court was told Barclay now has a place to live and had not committed an offence for three years before Monday’s incident.

Mr Allan said his client had no money or bus pass with him when he was taken to hospital, or any belongings.

The solicitor said Barclay had previously taken some sort of legal high and had become unwell.

It was claimed police had assured him on the way to hospital that they would sort out his journey home.

Mr Allan said: “Everyone seemed to fob him off and, in his words, he lost his temper. He threw a chair to vent his frustration.”

An Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said: “The safety of all our patients is our first concern and thankfully incidents like this are few and far between.

“But if they do happen, we take prompt action with the police and the prosecution service to make sure that charges are brought and prosecutions take place.”

Barclay was fined £120, but it was deemed as time served in lieu of his detention in custody awaiting his court case.

He was also ordered to pay £300 compensation to Ipswich Hospital and £20 to the victims’ fund.

The compensation is to be deducted from Barclay’s benefits.

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