A ‘SUICIDAL’ patient is accused of lashing out at ambulance staff, threatening to infect them with HIV, trying to strangle himself and calling them ‘gay bashers’ while claiming to be possessed by 'the Devil'.

James Pratt is accused of two assaults on emergency workers at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester as his trial got underway at Worcester Crown Court yesterday. The 54-year-old of Park Close, Malvern denies the assaults against paramedic Nathan Walford and senior ambulance technician Tom Haunton on September 8, 2019. John Brotherton, prosecuting, opened the case, telling the jury the two men, part of a double-crewed ambulance team, attended Pratt’s Malvern home at around 12.28am after reports of a 'suicidal' male 'hyperventilating' because of a dispute with his neighbour over parking.

Mr Brotherton described how Pratt was ‘initially compliant’ but his behaviour changed inside the ambulance. “He threw himself from the stretcher and attempted to strangle himself with the stretcher seatbelt. He was also shouting words to the effect he was being possessed by the Devil,” said Mr Brotherton.

Pratt was taken to A&E where he was described as attempting to ‘harm himself with anything within reach’, including by wrapping electrical leads, bed linen and clothing around his neck. Mr Brotherton also said the defendant put his head between the railings of the bed and attempted to ‘thrown his weight over the top in an apparent effort to break his neck’.Once he had 'calmed down', Pratt was then said to have set off the hospital fire alarm while the crew had gone to 'get a brew' which meant the building had to be evacuated. It is alleged that Pratt was seen crawling across the ambulance bays before a doctor managed to administer a sedative. When back in the ambulance he was described as becoming ‘combative’, once again throwing himself from the stretcher. "He was then attempting to spit out and bite the ambulance crew, saying 'I'm going to infect you with HIV'," said Mr Brotherton.

During the struggle it is alleged that Pratt 'kneed Mr Haunton to the side of the head' and that he also twisted his knee in the course of the struggle. At this stage it was decided to let the patient go.

Pratt was described as getting off the stretcher and heading towards the mini roundabout on the hospital grounds as staff attempted to follow him, managing to get him back on the stretcher.

Mr Brotherton said: "He then jumped out of the stretcher and started to shout abuse at the ambulance crew, shouting 'gay bashers!' and saying they had given him 'a gay beating'."

In police interview Pratt said he had drunk three double vodkas, had been distressed over a parking dispute with his neighbour and had set off his own burglar alarm to disturb his neighbour. He told officers he activated the fire alarm at the hospital because he felt 'claustrophobic'.

Jason Aris, carrying out cross-examination on behalf of the unrepresented defendant, put it to Mr Haunton that he had his knee on Pratt's neck and the defendant was saying 'get off me, I can't breathe!'

The witness replied 'no'. Mr Aris also put it to him that the cord of Pratt's shorts had been removed and they fell down around his ankles and that the witness had been 'laughing and taking the mick out of him'.

"No, that isn't the case" said Mr Haunton who described Pratt 'lashing out indiscriminately'.

The witness also disputed that he had twisted his knee running after the defendant, telling the jury: "It was already injured."

Mr Haunton, who had worked for the ambulance service for 19 years, said that when Pratt arrived at A&E it was 'peak time' and that he had been trying 'to stop him getting hold of any items that could be used as a garotte'.

He said they had to let their shift manager they had been delayed at the hospital. During the alleged assault itself Mr Haunton said: "He was lashing out, kicking, punching. He was spitting and attempting to bite me."

Mr Haunton described how he was 'rocked' by a blow to his right temple and he believed his colleague had been hit in the chest. "It was a melee" he said. The witness also said Pratt had made 'sexual comments', asking one of the hospital security guards if he would be his 'next husband'.

He also said the defendant mentioned 'going into the bushes to have sex'.

The trial continues.