Thursday 19 September 2019

Paramedic jailed over choking of female first-aid students

Andrew Long
Andrew Long

Gordon Deegan

A JUDGE has jailed a paramedic who “patently abused” his position of trust when assaulting two female first aid students, one of whom was pregnant.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys imposed a two-year jail term on Andrew Long (36), suspending the final year, for the assault causing harm to Mary Nihill, who he placed in a chokehold six years ago.

Judge Keys imposed a four month jail term for another, less serious, assault charge on mother-of-three Elise McMahon, to run concurrently to the two-year term.

The judge said an aggravating factor in the case was that Long, of Carraig Dubh, Tobarteascain, Ennis, had shown no remorse or concern for the welfare of his victims.

He said another aggravating factor was that Ms McMahon was seven months pregnant at the time of the assault on her in March 2013.

Judge Keys read out Long’s probation report, which found there was a moderate risk of the east Clare native reoffending over the next 12 months.

The probation officer recorded that Long continued to deny he contributed to the assault offences and instead accused Ms Nihill and Ms McMahon of “concocting stories and lies about what happened in an attempt to get compensation”.

The two victims were in court yesterday to hear the judge tell Long the assaults were serious in nature because he was in a position of trust, which he “patently abused”.

Judge Keys told “well-educated” Long his assaults “could have inflicted very serious injury, such as cutting off the air to the brain or the blood supply”.

He said the assault on Ms Nihill was reckless and constituted assault causing harm.

It is more than a year since Long entered a plea of guilty to the assaults, which took place during an evening Civil Defence first aid class at the Vocational Education Centre in Scarriff in March 2013.

However, Long subsequently applied to withdraw his guilty plea.

Opposing the application, counsel for the State Philip Rahn said that Long had told “a mixture of plain nonsense, half-truths and lies” in seeking to change his guilty plea.

Judge Keys rejected the application in January of this year.

In the assault, Long rendered mother-of-one Ms Nihill unconscious with his chokehold and, in evidence, she told the court that she was in shock after the incident.

“I thought I was in safe hands with a professional paramedic. He tried to knock me out; he did knock me out,” she said.

Describing the assault on her, Ms McMahon told the court that Long wrapped his arm around her neck from behind.

“My airwaves were cut off. I was conscious, but literally I couldn’t talk. I had no voice,” she said.

“It was the weirdest feeling. It scared me. The only way to stop was to push my body forward.”

In her victim impact statement, Ms McMahon said: “I did feel shock and disbelief of it occurring, as well as shock and fear of telling someone, and my unborn child, along with the grip around my neck which I felt for days.”


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