Edinburgh crime: East Lothian mum who spat in face of nurse at Edinburgh hospital ordered to pay compensation

An East Lothian mum who spat in the face of a nurse who was attempting to treat her has been ordered to pay the medic compensation.

Melissa Steele launched the assault on nurse Jillian Morton after she had been taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in May 2020. Steele, 27, became “erratic” while sitting in an isolation bay and after wandering around the hospital she attempted to set off a fire alarm.

Hospital staff tried to calm her down but she retaliated by spitting in the face of Ms Morton. Steele, from Tranent, East Lothian, was then said to have been “sedated by staff” and remained in the hospital for three days afterwards.

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The mother-of-one pleaded guilty to assaulting the nurse by spitting when she appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday, November 18.

An East Lothian mum has been ordered to pay a nurse compensation, after spitting at her face while being treated at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary. (Photo credit: Greg Macvean)

Fiscal depute Debbie King told the court Steele attended the hospital for treatment at around 11pm on May 15, 2020. She was being dealt with in an isolation unit when she became unruly and while making her way to an exit she “punched a fire alarm in an effort to make it go off”. Ms King said medics intervened and “the accused spat in the face of witness Morton” who was on shift as a nurse that evening. Steele was subsequently arrested and charged under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005.

Lawyer Nigel Bruce, defending, said his client suffered from “poor mental health” at the time and revealed she had been sedated by staff following the outburst. Mr Bruce told the court she had “no recollection” of her behaviour that night and was “aghast” when she learned she was being prosecuted. The lawyer added Steele was “ashamed of her behaviour” and she currently works full time with a furniture manufacturer.

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Sheriff Kenneth Maciver said: “You have not been in any trouble since and I am prepared to draw a line under it. “This was an incident that was dealt with at the time by, I understand, sedation and being kept in hospital for a number of days.

“You must appreciate that people going about their normal business, whether it be nurses or other workers, are entitled to an atmosphere of safety and non-molestation.”

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Steele was fined a total of £320 and told she must pay the nurse £200 in compensation. Steele admitted a charge of assaulting, obstructing or hindering nurse Jillian Morton and did spit in her face at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on May 15, 2020.