Sunderland paramedic attacked by patient after telling him not to drink vodka in ambulance

Sunderland Royal Hospital A and E
Sunderland Royal Hospital A and E

A paramedic was attacked by a patient because he told him not to drink vodka in the ambulance.

 Ronald Oxberry, 46, placed Michael Hugo in a headlock and tried to punch him, Sunderland magistrates heard.

I could see that he was going to punch me – he had his other hand in a clenched fist, but I managed to swing him round in the ambulance

Michael Hugo, paramedic

Prosecutor Lee Poppett said Mr Hugo attended Oxberry’s Penshaw home at 9am on August 30, after he took 40 diazepam tablets, and he was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

He said: “By this stage, Mr Oxberry is on his phone to his solicitors.

“He becomes verbally abusive and he is asked to end the call. At this point, he produces a bottle of vodka. His demeanour is now aggressive and verbally abusive.

“Mr Hugo explains to him that he can’t drink vodka in an ambulance on hospital premises, to which Mr Oxberry replies ‘I’ll knock your head off’.

“Mr Oxberry then places Mr Hugo in a headlock

“He says in his statement; ‘I could see that he was going to punch me – he had his other hand in a clenched fist, but I managed to swing him round in the ambulance’.”

Mr Hugo added: “This was a total change in personality and totally unexpected. I didn’t even have time to think or react.”

 Oxberry, of Swaledale Crescent, admitted assault.

Neil Hodgson, defending, said: “The defendant is not in a very good place at the moment. His soulmate died last week, she was 37. She also had a problem with drink.

“His mind was all over the place. He has a myriad of health problems due to alcohol abuse.”

Oxberry was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 20 days of activity and nine months’ alcohol treatment. He was also fined £40 with £85 costs and £85 surcharge.

 Alan Gallagher, head of risk at North East Ambulance Service, said after the case: “The safety of staff and their patients is our highest priority.

 “Our staff need to feel safe in their working environment – what they do is more than a job to them and they dedicate themselves to saving and protecting people in our community.

 “It is totally unacceptable that they experience any kind of abuse whilst at work and we do not tolerate any form of violence or aggression against them.

 “We actively encourage staff to report any violent or abusive incident so that we can support them to pursue a formal criminal complaint.

 “When formal criminal action is taken against people who abuse our resources and assault our staff, we hope for a judgement that will recognise the impact that they have had on the service at large and our greatest asset – our staff.”