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Man who threatened staff members with syringe at hospice gets suspended sentence


Jonathan McGuirk

Jonathan McGuirk

Jonathan McGuirk

A man who threatened staff members with a syringe at Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross, Dublin has received a suspended three year jail sentence.

Jonathan McGuirk (28) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the offence and to trespassing with intent to commit theft on the same occasion, August 8, 2013.

McGuirk, of Cherry Avenue, River Valley in Swords, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is addicted to alcohol and drugs. Judge Desmond Hogan said McGuirk’s crimes were not linked to his schizophrenia.

He suspended the prison sentence on condition that McGuirk continue his treatment in Cluain Mhuire centre where he is being assessed by a consultant psychiatrist.

Garda Jeremy Minihan told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that McGuirk came into St Michael's Ward and was found hiding in the manager's room.

When confronted by a male staff nurse and a security man, McGuirk became violent and threatened them with a syringe.

Gardaí arrived to find McGuirk kicking and lashing out at the two staff members who were attempting to hold him down.

McGuirk maintained during garda interview that he had been in a psychiatric ward and not a hospice. He told gardaí he needed medication and was looking for a place to sleep.

Gda Minihan agreed that McGuirk had been looking for something to steal so that he could sell it and use the money to buy drugs.

McGuirk has 58 previous convictions, including robbery, theft, burglary and road traffic offences.

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Gardaí agreed with Cathal McGreal BL, defending, that some of McGuirk's answers in interview had been “strange” and “bizarre”.

McGuirk responded “I don't know” to several questions from gardaí, but insisted it would be “very out-of-character” for him to threaten someone with a syringe.

“I would never stab anyone with a needle and syringe no matter what frame of mind I'm in,” he said.

Gda Minihan agreed that treatment would be the best option for McGuirk, who has consistently claims that he needs and wants treatment.

Mr McGreal said the only way to make sense of his client's behaviour is in the context of his alcohol and drug addictions and his mental health issues.

Judge Hogan said he was anxious to get help for McGuirk, adding, “The man has a problem.”

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