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Man jailed for GP assault after being refused analgesics

A man in Derry has been sent to prison for four months after assaulting his GP when she refused to give him analgesics.

John Paul Stokes of Barr’s Lane in Derry admitted assaulting the doctor at Waterside Health Centre on April 11. 

During his appointment with the GP, he asked for pain medication but was refused, after which he took off his leg brace and threw it on the floor.

Mr Stokes then leaned across the GP’s desk, shouting at her, grabbed her phone and threw it, striking the GP on the arm.

The GP told police that she felt she was in immediate danger of being assaulted.

However, when Mr Stokes was arrested he denied assaulting the doctor but confirmed removing his leg brace.

He apologised to police and said he had not intended to frighten the GP.

District Judge Barney McElholm told the court: ‘To go in to a GP surgery and behave like this towards a doctor is deserving of an immediate custodial sentence.’

He said that another district judge had given Mr Stokes a suspended sentence earlier this year due to abusive behaviour at Altnagelvin Hospital’s A&E.

Mr McElholm said: ‘He would not have gotten a suspended sentence from me because in that case he subjected a family to vile verbal abuse.

‘He was given a four month suspended sentence on that date and I am putting that sentence into operation today. Take him down.’

The judgement comes as a survey by Pulse’s publisher, Cogora, found that rising numbers of GPs have experienced some form of verbal, written or physical abuse from patients in the past year.