Hospital fetish lands asbo man in prison

2:06am Wednesday 5th September 2007

A MAN with a fetish for hospitals and surgical masks has been jailed for three years.

Norman Hutchins, 56, of no fixed address, but formerly of York, has a history of faking ailments to gain access to hospitals.

In 2004, he made legal history when he became the first man to be banned from every hospital in the country.

He visited Darlington Memorial Hospital where he physically and verbally abused staff and had to be removed by police.

When he was arrested in Middlesbrough, he was found to be carrying a knife and two days later, he went to the casualty department of York District Hospital where he was verbally abusive to staff and produced a knife.

In 2005, he was given a nationwide anti-social behaviour order (asbo) in an attempt to stop his persistent offending.

But only days after his release from a previous three-year sentence, Hutchins claimed he had been beaten up to gain access to Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Computer checks alerted staff to his asbo.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Hutchins was released on May 4 this year and was told about the asbo, which banned him from entering any NHS or private medical establishment without permission.

But just over a week later, on May 13, Hutchins phoned for an ambulance claiming he had been assaulted by two men outside a bingo hall in Bradford, and was suffering from abdominal pains.

He had already been in the hospital the previous day complaining of chest pains.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, said: "On the second occasion, he did not mention he was the subject of an order, but checks by staff revealed a mark against his name indicating he was a patient likely to cause problems.

"It was then clear to hospital staff treating him that he was the subject of an order."

Mr Storey said Hutchins has 31 convictions dating back to 1970.

In 1997 and 1999, he was charged with obtaining property by deception. He claimed on those occasions that the surgical masks were for a fancy dress party, but really they were for his sexual gratification.

In 2002, he admitted three counts of assaulting hospital staff.

In 2004, he threatened staff with a knife and demanded surgical masks.

He was jailed for three years for those attacks and the asbo was subsequently imposed.

Andrew Semple, mitigating, said Hutchins had been diagnosed as having Munchausen syndrome - a psychiatric disorder in which those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma.

He had pleaded guilty to breaching his asbo at an earlier hearing.

When sentencing Hutchins, Judge Paul Hoffman said: "Your previous convictions indicate a propensity to bizarre behaviour and you have not been willing to take professional help.

"You are an obsessive and obdurate man and you are obsessed with all things medical and hospitals.

"You committed this deliberate breach and once again you were bothering hard-pressed NHS workers.

"You are 56, a little late, I suspect, to change. This sentence is to protect the public from you."

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