Sex offender stabbed care worker in the neck in psychiatric hospital

Part-time mental health worker was grabbed in a chokehold and stabbed in the neck by ‘high risk’ and ‘dangerous’ convicted sex offender, 38, as she took him on an unescorted walk – as judge jails him for three more years

  • Kevin MacDonald, 38, attacked healthcare assistant Christine Mulroney during an ‘unescorted’ walk at a psychiatric hospital in August last year 
  • MacDonald, a convicted sex-offender, hurled the mum-of-three against a wall 
  • He forced her into a chokehold and stabbed her in the neck with toe clippers 
  • MacDonald was serving an ‘indeterminate’ sentence for public protection since 2008 and had previously assaulted and molested a 17-year-old-girl
  • ‘Dangerous offender’ MacDonald jailed for another three years at Bolton Crown Court for grievous bodily harm

A mother-of-three working part time in a mental health facility was grabbed in a chokehold and stabbed in the neck after she was assigned to take a convicted sex offender out for an ‘unescorted’ walk. 

Christine Mulroney had been accompanying 38-year old Kevin MacDonald on her own on August 9 last year, when he suddenly ambushed her in a stairwell and attacked her with a pair of toe clippers. 

Mrs Mulroney, a Tesco cashier who was working a 12 hour shift as a healthcare assistant to top up her wages, was repeatedly hurled against a wall during the assault at Spinney psychiatric hospital in Atherton, Greater Manchester.

Kevin MacDonald, 38, stabbed Mrs Mulroney in the neck during an ‘unescorted’ walk at Spinney psychiatric hospital on August 9 last year

Mrs Mulroney, was working part-time at Spinney psychiatric hospital to top up her wages as a Tesco cashier at the time of the attack

Mrs Mulroney was then throttled as MacDonald held his arm around her throat and thrust the sharp clippers into the side of her neck.

The victim, who is in her 40s, repeatedly pressed her panic alarm and broke free but was then pushed down the stairs. 

Mrs Mulroney has been left traumatised and unable to return to either of her two jobs

Despite her injuries, she got to her feet and escaped through a security door before colleagues arrived on the scene to detain MacDonald.  

At Bolton Crown Court yesterday (Monday), MacDonald was jailed for another three years after he admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm. 

His ‘not guilty’ plea to the more serious charge of intent to cause GBH was accepted. The father-of-one, from Crewe, Cheshire, is now being detained at Category A Frankland Jail in County Durham.

In a statement to police, Mrs Mulroney said: ‘Kevin was stood behind me and I was desperately trying to get him to release me but he was too strong. I was clawing at his arms to try and break his grip but it was no use.

‘I screamed as loudly as a I could to get attention because I was so scared. I was pressing the button on the panic alarm over and over again in the hope someone would attend.

‘I don’t know how many times he stabbed me but I felt this sharp pain over and over. I really though he was going to kill me.’ 

Mrs Mulroney suffered fractures in two places to her left wrist plus multiple bruising to her body and cuts to her neck. She was left so traumatised she suffers flashbacks and has been unable to return to either job.

MacDonald had been transferred to a low secure ward at Spinney, near Bolton, while serving an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP) imposed in 2008. 

MacDonald had previously been convicted of beating up and molesting a 17-year old girl in an alleyway. 

He had also been sentenced in the past for neglect of his own baby son – who suffered broken ribs and a ruptured spleen in a beating – as well as harassing and threatening to kill his former partner. 

MacDonald initially claimed Mrs Mulroney had touched him in the stairwell but later confessed to not knowing why he attacked the victim. 

He had approached Mrs Mulroney, who was working a 7am-7.50pm shift, asking if she was free to take him out of the hospital for the ‘unescorted walk’ around the grounds. 

Mrs Mulroney said: ‘I don’t know how many times he stabbed me but I felt this sharp pain over and over. I really though he was going to kill me’

Mrs Mulroney added: ‘I thought I was meant to die that day and I all I could think of was my children’

Alison Mather prosecuting said: ‘She did know the defendant, having worked with him on previous occasions and she knew of his convictions and that he was prone to violence.

‘Her role was to escort the patient to the exit then allow them to walk around the gardens unaccompanied and then let them back into the building.

‘Another staff nurse suggested she take him for the unescorted walk and she took him down a corridor through a number of security doors.

‘But on the staircase, he suddenly out of nowhere began to smack her head against the wall on either side of the corridor. He grabbed her hair using his hands and threw her backwards and forwards into the brickwork.

Violence against health and social care workers

According to the Health and Safety Executive, violent incidents are the third biggest cause of injuries reported under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations)

What is work-related violence?

HSE defines work-related violence as ‘any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.’

Examples of violent and aggressive behaviour include:

  • A carer bitten by a person with learning disabilities in the course of the normal care of that person.
  • An irate visitor who considers that his relative has not been properly treated verbally abuses a ward manager.
  • A nurse verbally abused and threatened by a patient who is unwilling to take prescribed medication.
  • A catering assistant providing refreshments is hit by a confused elderly patient.

What is the risk? 

The main risk is the verbal abuse or physical assault. There is a high level of under-reporting of incidents of violence and aggression within the health and social care sector, as many accept it as part of the job.

Who is at risk?  

Employees involved in the following activities are at increased risk of violence and aggressive behaviour:

  • Working alone;
  • Working after normal working hours;
  • Working and travelling in the community;
  • Handling valuables or medication;
  • Providing or withholding a service;
  • Exercising authority;
  • Working with people who are emotionally or mentally unstable;
  • Working with people who are under the influence of drink or drugs;
  • Working with people under stress.

Health and safety law applies to the risks from violence, just as it does to other risks from work activities. Relevant legislation for employers includes:

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Source:  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 

‘He then grabbed her from behind in a chokehold and as much as she tried to escape, he was much too strong for her. 

‘She was screaming and trying to activate her personal alarm but continued to hold onto her and she felt stabbing pains to the right side of her neck.

‘She then managed to break free only to feel a sudden sharp thud before she tumbled down the remaining stairs. 

‘She feared for her life and managed to get up and run to the nearest security door which she was able to unlock and then lock behind her as she ran for help.’ 

Mrs Mulroney told how she still suffered with pain and limited movement in her wrist and added: ‘I thought I was meant to die that day and I all I could think of was my children. 

‘Kevin is a large man both tall and heavily build and I now suffer flashbacks which are getting steadily worse.

‘I cannot seen to get his face out of my head or stop thinking I could have been killed by him. I struggle to sleep and wake in a panic at night. This incident has affected the lives of both me and my family and I feel like it was my fault.

‘I have worked for Tesco for 26 years but had only worked at this facility for a short period of time. 

‘Since this happened, I’ve not been able to return to either job and I don’t know if I will ever feel confident enough to start back at work again. I do not feel like I was the same person I was before and I don’t think I will be that person again.

‘I had no reason to believe Kevin would attack me in this way – I do not know why he did it but his actions that day will forever stay with me and my trust in people will never be the same.’

When security staff detained MacDonald he was found with his arms outstretched as if waiting to be handcuffed. 

A report later said MacDonald had bee assessed as being a ‘high risk’ to others but had made progress whilst being treated at the hospital for a personality disorder and was classed as eligible for unescorted leave around the grounds of the facility.

Further reports revealed he was a football hooligan in his teens and carried flick knives.

In mitigation, defence counsel Miss Ellen Shaw said: ‘He is someone who struggles to understand the implications and emptional impact of his actions on others and ultimately that is part of his makeup.’

Sentencing Judge Tom Gilbart said MacDonald was a ‘dangerous offender’ because of his background. He ruled his sentencing remarks should be made available to the parole board for when MacDonald was being considered for release.

The judge said: ‘This was a quite shocking and persistent and unprovoked attack on a person working in the public sector to help others. What you did has had a significant impact on her. 

‘There is a further risk of you causing serious harm to the public. You are clearly dangerous in my assessment.’

The 100 bed Spinney facility run by Elysium Healthcare on an 11 acre site treats male patients with personality disorders in purpose-built medium, low secure and rehabilitation wards, as well as a psychiatric intensive care unit.

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