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Vicious attack on psych nurse nets man four years

KIRK Darroch got his wish on Thursday — prison time. He was handed four years behind bars for assault causing bodily harm to a 58-year-old psychiatric nurse at Health Sciences Centre on Aug. 4, 2013.

Darroch, who has schizophrenia and refuses treatment, said he orchestrated the attack because he wanted to be in jail instead of hospital.

"I’d rather have done jail time than the hospital time," Darroch told Judge Dale Schille on Thursday. "I didn’t mean to hurt her. I just wanted to get out of there."

Darroch was being held in the locked psychiatric wing of the hospital as an involuntary patient and asked the nurse to use the bathroom. When she opened up the door for him, he suddenly unleashed a volley of punches to her head and knocked her unconscious.

"It was so fast and immediate," the 21-year nurse told Winnipeg police. "I wear an emergency button on my shirt. The attack happened so fast I couldn’t even push it," she said.

The woman suffered numerous injuries including a concussion, a contusion to her head, bruising and multiple chipped teeth. She also has permanent memory loss, sometimes can’t spell her first name and hasn’t returned to work because of the trauma, court heard.

Darroch told jail officials he had to find a way to "weasel" his way out of the psych ward to avoid being stuck there, Crown attorney Geoff Bayly previously told court.

"She was nothing more than a pawn in the offender’s plan to get back into custody," he said.

Darroch, 35, has a dark and concerning criminal past.

He was handed five years in prison in 2003 for stalking and then stabbing a 20-year-old woman — a total stranger — twice in the neck. She was seven months pregnant at the time.

Darroch served every day of his jail time. The Parole Board of Canada deemed him "unreleasable" because of their concern he’d reoffend violently, said Bayly.

Justice officials sought a crime-prevention order against him after he was freed aimed at keeping him in check.

But he wound up attacking a peace officer and was returned briefly to jail.

In December 2012, Darroch injured a relative by repeatedly slamming her head into a wall. He also threatened to kill her.

He was initially found not criminally responsible for those offences and placed in the custody of the mental-health system and the HSC psychiatric ward. The NCR finding was overturned earlier this year after a Crown appeal. Darroch pleaded guilty last month to assault and uttering threats.

Bayly read Schille a summary of a psychiatrist’s letter regarding Darroch’s mental state.

Even though Darroch has schizophrenia and likely needs anti-psychotic medication, the illness didn’t play a role in diminishing his criminal culpability, the letter said.

The attack on the nurse was vicious, unprovoked and premeditated, Schille said — "the very antithesis of disordered thought."

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

 

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