HSE paramedic pleads guilty to assaulting two first aid students

Andrew Long could face up to five years in prison for placing women in a chokehold

Andrew Long changed his plea at Ennis Circuit Court just before the State and defence made  their closing speeches.

Andrew Long changed his plea at Ennis Circuit Court just before the State and defence made their closing speeches.

 

HSE paramedic, Andrew Long has pleaded guilty to assaulting two female first aid students when he placed them in a chokehold five years ago.

The 35-year-old changed his plea at Ennis Circuit Court just before the State and defence made their closing speeches at the end of the three-day trial.

Mr Long knocked mother-of-one, Mary Nihill out and rendered her unconscious with his choke hold and Ms Nihill wept at the back of the court and was comforted by her partner after Mr Long twice uttered ‘guilty’ when re-arraigned on the charges.

Mr Long changed his plea after discussions between his legal team and the State. The State agreed to a less serious charge against Mr Long in relation to his second victim, mother-of-three Elise McMahon.

Mr Long of Carraig Dubh, Tobertaosceain, Ennis now faces a jail term up to five years after his plea of guilty to assault causing harm against Mary Nihill contrary to Section 3 of the Offences Against the Person Act.

In evidence, during the trial, Ms Nihill got visibly upset in the witness box as she recalled how Mr Long knocked her out during an evening Civil Defence first aid class at the Vocational Education Centre in Scarriff in March 2013.

Ms 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.”

In a corridor at the centre, Ms Nihill said she was sitting down and that from behind Mr Long placed his left arm around her neck and applied force with his other arm.

She said: “I was choking and slipping on the chair and telling him to stop. I wanted to go out, but I couldn’t escape.”

She said: “At no time did I consent to him putting his hands around my neck.”

Airways

Mr Long performed the same manoeuvre a second time despite her saying “no” and she lost consciousness due to the pressure on her airways during the second manoeuvre.

She said: “I don’t know how long I was out for, but when I came to, he was sitting in front of me with his two hands on my knees.”

Elise McMahon from Broadford also attended the course the same night and was seven months pregnant at the time.

Ms McMahon also stated Mr Long called her out to the corridor that night after the class was over.

Ms McMahon said Mr Long wrapped his arm 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 court on Friday, after Judge Gerald Keys discharged the jury, counsel for the State, Philip Rahn BL said there was no State objection to Mr Long being remanded on continuing bail to June 26th for sentence.

Mr Rahn said victim impact statements from the two victims will be prepared for the sentencing hearing. As part of the bail terms, Mr Long is not to have any contact with the victims or their families.