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Ambulance patient threatened to give staff HIV and called them ‘gay bashers’, court hears

Josh Milton April 28, 2021
Ambulances park outside the Accident and Emergency ward at St Thomas' Hospital

Ambulances park outside the Accident and Emergency ward at St Thomas' Hospital. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Ambulance patient James Pratt, while “possessed by the Devil”, threatened to give staff HIV and called them “gay bashers” in Worcester, England.

The Worcester Crown Court heard at a trial Tuesday (27 April) how Pratt, 54, attempted to strangle himself while assaulting a pair of paramedics last September.

A double-crewed ambulance team sped to Pratt’s home in Malvern after a scuffle with a neighbour over parking ended with him feeling “suicidal”, Worcester News reported.

But while being transported to and from the hospital, Pratt lashed out at the paramedics before leaping out the vehicle and calling them “gay bashers”, the court heard.

Pratt told police he had drunk three double vodkas and was frustrated over his neighbour, setting off his own burglar alarm in an effort to notch an upset.

He denies two counts of assaulting an emergency worker.

James Pratt lashed out at paramedics while asking guards to be his ‘husband’

On 8 September at 12.28am, paramedic Nathan Walford and senior ambulance technician Tom Haunton arrived at Pratt’s home on Park Close to find the man “hyperventilating”.

Prosecutors claimed that Pratt was “initially compliant” as the two first-responders sought to soothe him in the ambulance, only for Pratt to “throw himself from the stretcher and attempt to strangle himself with the stretcher seatbelt”.

“He was also shouting words to the effect he was being possessed by the Devil,” John Brotherton, prosecuting, claimed.

When taken into the accidents and emergency ward at Worcester Royal Hospital, Brotherton said that Pratt attempted to “harm himself with anything within reach”. Wrapping his neck with electrical leads, bed linen and clothing.

When Pratt “calmed down”, he flipped the hospital fire alarm – he was feeling “claustrophobic”, Pratt said – while healthcare providers were making tea.

He was later seen crawling along the ambulance bay. A doctor needed to sedate him.

After being treated, his ambulance ride back home once again saw Pratt allegedly strike. Described by Brotherton as “combative”, he again threw himself from the stretcher.

“He was then attempting to spit out and bite the ambulance crew,” Brotherton said, “saying: ‘I’m going to infect you with HIV’.”

It is, of course, impossible for HIV to be transmitted through saliva or the act of biting. It is also impossible to pass on HIV to emergency workers in the line of duty through attacks. More information around the transmission of HIV can be found through the National AIDS Trust.

As Haunton and Walford struggled to restrain Pratt, he “kneed Mr Haunton to the side of the head”.

“He then jumped out of the stretcher and started to shout abuse at the ambulance crew, shouting ‘gay bashers!’ and saying they had given him ‘a gay beating’,” Brotherton said.

Haunton, an emergency medical technician of 19 years, told the courts how Pratt asked hospital security guards to be his “next husband” before saying he is “going into the bushes to have sex”.

The ambulance rides, he recalled, were a “melee”.

“He was lashing out, kicking, punching,” he said. “He was spitting and attempting to bite me.”

The trial continues.

More: HIV, Homophobia, NHS

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