A 33-year-old alcoholic who assaulted a nurse treating him for a drugs overdose and put her off work for three months, has appeared at Fermanagh Court.

Brian Cassidy, of Main Street, Irvinestown, shoved the nurse out of his way and into a metal cabinet as he tried to escape from police at the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen.

District Judge Liam McNally told him that "it has been said many times that those who assault medical staff will go to prison".

However, he said he accepted the assault was not deliberate and that Cassidy was making progress on probation with his alcohol addiction.

"It seems to me the public can best be protected if that course continues," he added.

He deferred sentencing Cassidy for 12 months to allow that to happen but warned him that any breach would result in him being jailed for four months, consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

Cassidy had admitted assaulting the nurse but insisted it was accidental.

"I wouldn't intentionally try to hurt a nurse or anyone else who was trying to help me," he told the police.

"I have an alcohol addiction problem but I would never hurt anybody," he added.

A prosecutor had described how Cassidy was arrested on November 1, last year, in relation to a domestic matter. He told police he had taken an overdose of paracetamol and as a result was taken to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Erne Hospital. He was accompanied by two officers. He was sitting on a bed when he suddenly jumped up and ran through the Accident and Emergency Department to try and escape from the police. As he ran through the hospital he bumped into the nurse who had been treating him, pushing her out of his way and into a metal cabinet. She was not injured but suffered tenderness and was off work until February of this year.

The court heard that Cassidy was detained by the police. He told them it was not a personal attack on the nurse but accepted he had struck her.

"It would be accepted by the prosecution that it was reckless rather than intentional," said the prosecutor.

Defence barrister, Miss Heather Philips, said Cassidy told police he had consumed an excess amount of paracetamol and was taken to the hospital. He wasn't being aggressive. The nurse who had been assessing him was in front of the door at the exit and according to the hospital notes Cassidy was simply trying to escape police custody.

"There's no reference to any assault per se," said Miss Philips.