Man avoids jail term for attack on doctor

by Gazette Reporter

A FORMER computer programmer who assaulted a doctor and produced a fake gun in her clinic has been given a suspended sentence after a judge said his behaviour had been “out-of-character”.
John Agnew (48) admitted slapping Dr Marian O’Keeffe twice in the face, pulling her hair and verbally abusing her at a surgery at Grange Manor Drive, Rathfarnham on August 8, 2013.
Agnew, of Benburb Street, Dublin 7, also pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to producing an air pistol and stealing a prescription from the clinic.
Judge Martin Nolan sentenced him to three years in prison but suspended it in full, taking into account Agnew’s guilty plea, his remorse and his “pretty dismal” physical condition following years of drug abuse.
The judge said Agnew’s misperception that the doctor wasn’t treating him properly was due to the pain he was experiencing and the drugs he was on.
He said Dr O’Keeffe had been doing her duties and had “in no way” contributed to the incident.
The court heard Agnew was highly intelligent and had previously worked as a computer programmer before becoming addicted to heroin and crack cocaine.
Along with depression, he suffers thrombosis and abscesses on his legs and lungs from injecting and smoking drugs.
Agnew inherited his late parents’ house in 2006 and sold it for €420,000 at the height of the economic boom, but rapidly spent the money on drugs for himself and his new set of friends.
Within a year of the sale of the house, Agnew was homeless and begging on the streets.
Garda Joanne Brogan told James Dwyer BL, prosecuting, that Agnew had phoned the clinic on the day looking for his regular prescription.
Agnew’s usual doctor was away and the locum, Dr O’Keeffe, told Agnew he would have to come to the clinic to collect the prescription.
Agnew arrived at the surgery using a Zimmer frame and was given a routine urine kit, but failed to deliver a sample.
Dr O’Keeffe said she asked Agnew to wait in the waiting room, but he came into the surgery, caught her hair and slapped her twice across the face.
The doctor fell backwards and Agnew took what seemed to be a handgun from his carrier bag, waved it around and called her a “c..t”.
Dr O’Keeffe called for help from her son, who was working on reception, and Agnew escaped, stealing his unsigned prescription on the way.
In a victim impact statement, Dr O’Keeffe said she suffered from anxiety and insomnia afterwards and felt unsafe in her own home.
She was unable to work for months and her confidence was damaged.
Agnew was arrested two days later in hospital and told gardai: “I’ve been expecting you.”
Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said Agnew was “very polite and cooperative” with gardai and wanted to apologise to the doctor and her son.
He said Agnew claimed he had woken up that morning unable to walk and that the doctor seemed disinterested.
Agnew told gardai he was sorry and that he “completely lost control”. “If I wasn’t in that pain or under the effects of street drugs, I would have gone about that situation differently,” he said.
Agnew has five previous minor convictions and one Circuit Court conviction for the misuse of drugs.

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