A 20-YEAR-OLD man whose offending has occurred against a background of “sustained drug use” has been put on Probation for 18 months after admitting responsibility for a series of incidents at South West Acute Hospital.

Andrew Fisher, of Hudson Heights, Irvinestown, pleaded guilty to possessing a Class A controlled drug, namely cocaine, a Class B controlled drug, namely cannabis, and a Class C controlled drug, namely the tranquillizer alprazolam, on December 16, 2017.

Meanwhile, Fisher entered a further guilty plea to using disorderly behaviour in a public place, namely South West Acute Hospital, on September 8, 2017.

In connection with a third incident, he also pleaded guilty to possessing a lock knife without good reason or lawful authority at South West Acute Hospital on September 15, 2017.

Fermanagh Magistrates Court heard that, on December 16 last year, police attended the South West Acute Hospital after receiving a report that staff had found drugs on a patient.

Officers subsequently seized two blocks of suspected cannabis resin and a small bag of white powder from the defendant.

During questioning, he claimed that he used the ‘dope’ to get to sleep. Fisher later made a full admission to the offence. Several months before this incident, on September 8 last year, the defendant had been admitted to the emergency department of the hospital as he was feeling “drowsy”. On this occasion, at around 10.10pm, he demanded to leave, despite staff trying to convince him to stay and receive treatment.

He tried to force the door open, rendering it “inoperable”, the court heard.

Fisher was “shouting and swearing” as he left the hospital with his mother and was loud enough to be heard by other people who were attending the department.

A week later, in the early hours of September 15, the defendant was challenged by staff after he was found to be in possession of a ‘pen knife’ in the waiting room of the hospital. He cut himself with the knife and passed out, before being revived.

Defending counsel, Stephen Fitzpatrick, told the court that sentencing had been deferred in all the matters to see if his client would attend the Community Addictions Team.

The barrister said that Fisher was currently subjecting himself to weekly drugs tests and had an appointment with a consultant psychiatrist.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said that the defendant’s offending had taken place against the background of “sustained drug use”, and amounted to a “cry for help”.

The barrister told the court that there had been a change in his behaviour in recent months and urged the court to allow him to continue with that progress.

District judge, Michael Ranaghan, observed that the offending had been aggravated by occurring in a hospital setting. Imposing an 18-month Probation Order, the judge ordered the defendant to continue to engage with the Community Addictions team and also attend ongoing counselling.