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A man went on the rampage with a hammer at New Craigs Hospital in Inverness because he blamed staff for the death of his girlfriend


By Gregor White


New Craigs Hospital.
New Craigs Hospital.

A hammer-wielding man went on the rampage at an Inverness psychiatric hospital after his girlfriend, who had been a patient there, killed herself.

Terrified staff at New Craigs Hospital ran for cover and a doctor was brutally assaulted when Duncan MacLaren launched his attack.

The dramatic events of October 27 were described in Inverness Sheriff Court where 28-year-old MacLaren admitted behaving in a threatening and abusive manner and damaging equipment and windows.

The court heard that he walked into the hospital armed with the hammer and smashed up an office before threatening to kill members of staff.

He blamed the hospital for the death of his girlfriend who had been a voluntary patient there but took her own life after walking out of the facility.

MacLaren had been reported as a missing person shortly before entering New Craigs and walking into Maree Ward and then a nurses’ office where he launched his terrifying attack.

Depute fiscal David Morton told Sheriff Margaret Neilson: “He was brandishing a hammer and started shouting and striking out at objects with it.

“He repeatedly struck it off a desk, hitting items on the desk, including a telephone and computer keyboard.”

There were five members of staff in the office at the time and MacLaren threatened to kill them.

Three people could not get out of the office because a chair had overturned and was blocking the door and MacLaren smashed a window before one nurse set off the attack alarm, bringing other members of staff rushing to the scene.

A doctor tried to hold the office door closed to stop MacLaren getting out and into the ward, but he smashed the handle before knocking the doctor to the floor and kicking him in the ribs.

On the ward, a staff nurse used a chair as a shield and advanced towards MacLaren.

“The accused then threw the hammer at him, which struck him on his left side,” Mr Morton said.

“He then lost his grip on the chair and was punched in the face by the accused.”

Duncan MacLaren outside Inverness Sheriff Court.
Duncan MacLaren outside Inverness Sheriff Court.

MacLaren retreated back into the office where he continued to shout and swear, claiming that staff had killed his girlfriend, until police arrived.

“Clearly this was a terrifying incident for the staff and this was witnessed by patients there who, due to the nature of the ward, are vulnerable,” the fiscal said.

“A number of patients required treatment after this to calm them down.”

MacLaren later told police he attended the hospital specifically to remonstrate with staff.

MacLaren, whose address in court papers was given as c/o HMP Inverness but who is from the Aviemore area, also admitted assaulting Dr Harvey Gamble and staff nurse Alistair Macleod.

Sentence was deferred until March 2 to allow for the preparation of criminal justice background reports.

Read more court news



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