Man who drunkenly abused police in A&E given chance to turn his life around

Court News
Court News

A MAN who hurled drunken abuse at police in a hospital accident and emergency department has been given an ‘opportunity’ to turn his life around by a court judge – thanks to the efforts of a Good Samaritan.

Paul Costella swore at officers who had been called to South Tyneside District Hospital by staff concerned about his behaviour.

When he refused to leave and continued to be abusive, he was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

The 55-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge when he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard he has had two previous drunk and disorderly convictions in the past year.

But he walked free from court with an absolute discharge after the court was told Costella is trying to get his life back on track.

A letter was read out in court by defence solicitor Christopher Brown from a resident who is allowing Costella to stay with him at his home in Stanhope Road, South Shields.

The letter stated that Costella is making progress in efforts to cut down on his alcohol use.

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “At 9.30am on Monday, December 22, police were called to the accident and emergency department at South Tyneside Hospital following reports of an abusive male.

“They approached Costella, who was abusive and swore at them.

“He smelled strongly of alcohol and refused to leave. He was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.”

Christopher Brown, defending, said: “He has a long history of alcohol dependency. He was homeless but has been taken in by a man.

“He says he is now swearing less and has cut down on his alcohol and that he is a good soul. This wasn’t a pleasant incident.

“He now has help and guidance, and you may feel you can put him in the trust of the court to keep out of trouble.”

District Judge Helen Cousins told Costella: “This was a very unpleasant incident, not only for the police and the members of the public but more importantly, the members of staff who are doing their best to look after the rest of us.

“I am impressed with the letter from the good Samaritan.

“I note from your record you are able to stay out of trouble for long periods of time. You are capable of not troubling the court again, and I will give you that opportunity.”

Costella was given an absolute discharge.

Ian Frame, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s Executive Director, Personnel and Development, said: “We always encourage reporting of any incidents of assault or verbal abuse and, whenever possible, we seek to prosecute.

“As our employees, staff have the right to work in a safe and secure environment and, very importantly, they need these conditions in order to ensure they are able to provide patient care to the highest standard.

“Incidents such as this, which can also cause distress to patients and their carers and to visitors, will not be tolerated.”