Verdict expected today in case of psychiatric patient accused of assaulting nurses

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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A judge will decide today whether a psychiatric patient suspected of committing vile acts while in hospital broke the law.

Elijah George, a Nigerian who lives in St. John’s, will find out today in provincial court if a judge will find him guilty on charges he assaulted nurses and peeked in a women’s bathroom stall last year at a St. John’s hospital.

Elijah George’s trial wrapped up Thursday at provincial court in St. John’s.

The 21-year-old — who is originally from Nigeria and has lived in St. John’s for more than a year — is charged with assaulting one nurse and sexually assaulting another on the psychiatric ward of the Health Sciences Centre in the capital city.

He’s also charged with voyeur­ism for reportedly peeking at a woman while she was in a stall in a women’s bathroom at the hospital.

The offences were said to have happened in May of last year.

Judge David Orr is expected to render the verdict this afternoon.

George — who had been an international student and has no family here — had been a patient at the hospital for about a month when he was arrested.

One nurse testified Thursday that George poked her in the chest with his hand while she was getting him juice in the kitchen on the psychiatric unit.

The second nurse said she was also getting George juice when he rubbed up against her. She said she felt he had an erection.

Another woman took the stand and said George peeked over the stall she was in and then peeked under it.

When George took the stand, he denied doing anything wrong. He said he didn’t touch either of the nurses and wasn’t in the women’s washroom.

The big issue in George’s case has been his mental fitness.

Proceedings in his bail hearing and trial were interrupted several times, when George’s odd behaviour prompted his lawyer, Joan Dawson, to request further psychiatric assessments.

Dawson said on several occasions it was discovered that at the St. John’s lockup and Her Majesty’s Penitentiary George was not being given the medication prescribed by the province’s top psychiatrist, Dr. Nizar Ladha.

“It’s very upsetting,” Dawson told The Telegram Thursday. “His medications weren’t being administered properly, so that’s very much a concern.”

But whatever the verdict today, George will be released from jail, as he has already served eight months behind bars — more than the three- to five-month jail term the Crown would be seeking in sentencing.

In December, the judge granted Dawson’s application to have George released, but because he had nowhere to live, he had to stay in jail.

Meanwhile, there’s a chance George will be deported, as representatives of Canada Border Services were in the courtroom Thursday.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt

Organizations: Health Sciences Centre, Canada Border Services

Geographic location: Nigeria

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