A MAN with a reputation for being a disruptive nuisance threatened to start a fire in a hospital, a court heard.

Andrew Ricky Callan turned up at the University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham, seeking some form of mental health assistance, shortly before midnight on September 13.

Durham Crown Court heard hospital staff, who knew him from previous visits to the hospital, noted his behaviour deteriorated as he became aggressive and argumentative.

Helen Towers, prosecuting, said Callan made threats to set fire to the premises and took out a deodorant canister which he sprayed and ignited the flume, as he said: “I’ll set this place alight”.

Miss Towers said the incident caused the hospital staff present, “genuine concern” that he could cause serious damage and harm as they awaited the arrival of police to arrest Callan.

The 42-year-old defendant, of Brinkburn Road, Darlington, who appeared via video link from Durham Prison, where he has been on remand, previously admitted threatening to cause criminal damage.

Miss Towers told the sentencing hearing he has, “significant and relevant past convictions”, including making threats to staff at both Darlington Memorial Hospital and Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, as well as ringing police threatening to cause an explosion in the street where he previously lived, in Shildon, by igniting gas at his home.

John Crawford, for Callan, told the court: “At the time of the latest incident he was homeless and in a fairly poor position in himself.

“He recognises he’s to blame for that to a significant degree himself.

“In this case it was relatively impulsive threat.”

“Since he has been in custody, there has been some indication he’s making a degree of improvement and working with other bodies to address drink and drug issues.

“He realises it’s the only way for him to get out of this cycle of behaviour.

“There is an indication there has been the turning of the corner in that respect.”

Judge Ray Singh told Callan: “Staff at hospital are putting their lives at risk in order to protect the public and can do without individuals like you causing this sort of disruption.

“And, this isn’t the first time you have behaved in this manner, I’m afraid.

“Look at your record. You’ve been offered every type of help and assistance and, yet, you have not complied, breaching court orders relentlessly over the years.”

Jailing Callan for 13-months, the judge told him, given the possible ramifications of his actions, he could not pass anything other than an immediate prison sentence.

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