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Siege GP 'relieved' as patient is jailed

A GP who was held hostage at knifepoint for seven hours has spoken of his relief that he can put the ordeal behind him after the patient who held him captive was jailed for five years.

Dr John Aherne was the victim of a siege by ex-soldier Lawrence Mellon, 43, who pleaded guilty to charges of falsely imprisoning him and his partner.

Dr Aherne's ordeal began when he went to investigate a disturbance in the consulting room of his partner, Dr Jona-than Sansome, at their practice in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Dr Sansome escaped but Dr Aherne was dragged into the room and held captive.

Dr Aherne, who was not injured and did not have to appear in court, told Pulse: 'I'm relieved the whole matter has come to a conclusion by him pleading guilty.'

Mellon had suffered back pain since an accident while working as a scaffolder. Northampton Crown Court heard how he held Dr Aherne hostage in July to try to force the police to kill him to 'resolve the incident'.

Sentencing Mellon, Judge Charles Wide said the public, no matter how sick or frustrated, must never be allowed to attack people who were there to help them.

He told Mellon: 'Doctors are particularly vulnerable to this sort of attack and the courts will protect them. They have done nothing more than try to help you and to involve them in this way was completely inexcusable. Making them suffer, albeit because of your predicament, is a very serious matter indeed.'

Dr Aherne said he felt compassion for Mellon but could not condone what he had done. 'It's good to hear the courts recognise that GPs and primary care staff need protection. This will hopefully help prevent similar problems in

future.'

Mellon had gone to the surgery for an appointment relating to his back problem. He was carrying two knives, a combat knife with a six-inch blade and a seven-inch kitchen knife, the court heard.

He produced the knives in the consultation room with Dr Sansome, ordering the GP to call the police. Dr Sansome escaped out the window after about six minutes.

After seizing Dr Aherne, Mellon made a 'gentleman's agreement' not to hurt him

as long as he did not attempt an escape ­ but later told the GP he might have to injure him to provoke the police into action.

Mellon was jailed for five years for Dr Aherne's ordeal and for two years, to run concurrently, for holding Dr Sansome.

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