Alcoholic abused paramedic after being told to stop sniffing gas

Former Marks and Spencer, King Street South Shields

An alcoholic became abusive to a paramedic who told him to stop sniffing lighter fluid while treating him in a pub doorway.

Stephen Watson, 48, was sitting on the ground beside the entrance to Beach, in Ocean Road, South Shields, when ambulance staff attended to him, South Tyneside Magistrates heard.

Emergency services had been called twice by concerned members of the public, the court was told.

Prosecutor Glenda Beck said police had been on duty nearby at 6.25pm, on August 9, when they were called to assist the paramedic in Ocean Road.

Ms Beck said: “As he was receiving treatment, he attempted to sniff one of the bottles of gas which was in his possession.

“The paramedic removed the gas bottle from him for his own safety.

“He started swearing a throwing punches towards the paramedic.”

Ms Beck said as the paramedic took shelter in his vehicle it became clear Watson had simply wanted a lift home.

Police told him to walk away, but later realised he was subject to a community protection notice, banning him from sitting or loitering on a public footpath or in shop doorways.

He was also prohibited from possessing unsealed containers of alcohol or open gas canisters, and from causing harassment, alarm or distress in a specified area in South Shields town centre.

Ms Beck said that on September 25, Watson was found sniffing gas in the entrance of the vacant Marks & Spencer store in King Street.

He was issued with a dispersal order at 11.30am. At 12.40pm the same day he was found nearby as he attempted to conceal a gas canister up his coat sleeve, along with a copy of the dispersal notice.

Watson, of Beach Road, South Shields, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a Section 35 direction excluding a person from and area and two counts of failing to comply with a community protection notice.

Representing himself, Watson told the court: “I admit I’m an alcoholic, yes.”

He was sentenced to a six-month conditional discharge and was told to pay a £20 surcharge.

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