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Former paramedic (36) jailed for a year for assaults on two first-aid students

One of Andrew Long’s victims was seven months pregnant at the time of the assault on her in 2013.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A JUDGE TODAY jailed for one year a HSE paramedic who “patently abused” his position of trust when assaulting two female first aid students.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys imposed a two-year jail term, suspending the final year on Andrew Long (36) for the assault causing harm on Mary Nihill when he placed her in a choke hold six years ago.

Judge Keys imposed a four-month jail term for the less serious assault charge on mother of three, Elise McMahon to run concurrently to the two-year term.

Judge Keys said that an aggravating factor in the case is that Long of Carraig Dubh, Tobartaoscain, Ennis has shown no remorse or concern for the welfare of his victims.

The judge said that another aggravating factor was that one of Long’s victims, McMahon was seven months pregnant at the time of the assault on her in March 2013.

Judge Keys read out the Probation Report on Long which found that there is a moderate risk of the east Clare native re-offending over the next 12 months.

The Probation Officer recorded that Long continues to deny that he contributed to the assault offences and instead accused Nihill and McMahon of “concocting stories and lied about what happened in an attempt to get compensation”.

The two were in court today to hear Judge Keys tell Long that the nature of the assaults were serious because “you were in a position of trust which you patently abused”.

Judge Keys told “well-educated” Long that his assaults “could have inflicted very serious injury such as cutting off the air to the brain or the blood supply”.

Judge Keys said that the assault on Nihill was reckless and constituted assault causing harm.

Application to withdraw guilty plea

It is over one year since Long entered a plea of guilty to the assaults of Nihill and McMahon during an evening Civil Defence first aid class at the Vocational Education Centre in Scarriff in March 2013.

However, Long subsequently applied to withdraw his guilty plea and opposing the application, counsel for the State, Philip Rahn BL said that Long has told “a mixture of plain nonsense, half-truths and lies” in seeking to change his guilty plea.

Judge Keys rejected Long’s application in January of this year.

In the assault, Long rendered mother of one, Nihill unconscious with his choke hold and in evidence, Nihill told the court that after the incident “I was in shock. I thought I was in safe hands with a professional paramedic. He tried to knock me out – he did knock me out.”

Describing the assault on her, McMahon told the court that Long put his arm wrapped around her neck from behind.

She said: “My airwaves were cut off. I was conscious, but literally I couldn’t talk. I had no voice. It was the weirdest feeling. It scared me. The only way to stop was to push my body forward.”

In her victim impact statement, McMahon told the court: “I did feel shock and disbelief of it occurring as well as shock and fear of telling someone and my unborn child along with the grip around my neck which I felt for days.

Long has been on administrative leave from his paramedic post as a result of the assaults and his counsel, Des Hayes BL told the court previously that Long’s job as a job as a paramedic is now finished.

Judge Keys said that he has taken into account Mr Long’s employment prospects when imposing sentence.

Judge Keys stated that he also took into Long’s plea of guilty, having no previous convictions and testimonials saying that he was of good character.

Hayes asked that Long not be jailed for six weeks to allow his client get his affairs in order and other matters he must attend to.

However, solicitor for the State, Aisling Casey said that Long has had enough time to get his affairs in order, stating that a six week stay would be unjust to the victims who have waited over one year for sentence in this case after Long entered his guilty plea.

Judge Keys rejected the application to put a stay on Long going to jail for six weeks and instead granted a stay of one week and remanded him to bail, ordering him to attend court next Tuesday where he will be brought into custody.

Casey said that the prosecution was agreeable to a one week stay.

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Gordon Deegan

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