June 27, 2022
An AMBULANCE paramedic who came to the aid of a man lying on the side of St Patrick’s Dock in Cork was struck in the leg by the man, Cork District Court heard this week.
The man denied an assault charge, saying he was suffering from an epileptic seizure at the time.
However, aggrieved party John McCarthy said defendant Robert Harris of Cork Simon Community is “faking it”. Mr McCarthy responded to a call on April 4, 2021 about a man having a seizure on St Patrick’s Quay.
“Mr. Harris was lying on his side,” he said.
“There was no foreclosure activity when we arrived. He wasn’t unconscious. I put my hand on his chest. He kicked the back of my leg twice on my calf. He told me to take my hands off him.
“There was no seizure activity. He wasn’t confused and irritated. He was quite violent and agitated. He didn’t want our help.
Defense barrister Frank Buttimer said: ‘His defense is that he was convulsing and was unaware of any act you describe.
“You received a report that someone thought he was having a seizure. It appeared that someone was concerned that he was having a seizure.
Mr McCarthy said he knew Harris, aged around 50, and had helped him several times before. He said the accused was not having a seizure and was not unconscious, but was faking it.
“He told me to let go and kicked me twice in the calf,” Mr McCarthy said.
Margaret Casey of the National Ambulance Service corroborated her colleague’s testimony.
“He had no signs of seizure activity,” Ms Casey said.
Judge Alec Gabbett said: ‘Both ambulance crew members are on good terms with the accused. He is a great traveler. They know him well. That’s the most compelling evidence.”
Harris said he had medical issues and “through my own fault” he had cirrhosis of the liver.
“I take so many drugs that I take them morning and night,” he said.
Commenting on his epileptic seizure, he said: “It’s like shutting down a computer and restarting it, it takes time to come back.
Sergeant Pat Lyons said on cross-examination: ‘You are on a first name basis with the ambulance service – if you needed help would they help you?’
The defendant replied: “Absolutely. And if I depend on them, why would I behave like this?
Judge Gabbett said the defense said it was involuntary due to a medical crisis. He convicted Harris of assault.
The judge said: “I don’t believe for a minute that they wouldn’t have taken him to the hospital if he had had a seizure. I don’t believe it’s involuntary or autonomous. He seems to be in a terrible state with his health. He receives great care from everyone, including the ambulance service. There’s so much going on for Mr. Harris that I’m going to direct an internship report.
The case was adjourned for two months for this purpose.