Sick vagrant pulls knife on doctor

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2011

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A homeless vagrant accused of pulling a knife on a doctor trying to treat him at the Lakes District Hospital yesterday morning is likely to face charges once he is out of critical care.

Police searched for the man after he left the hospital in the early hours of yesterday morning.Acting Detective Sergeant Grant Millar yesterday said Mark O'Conner, 46, was easily spotted because he was wearing an eye-patch, and he was located after a tip from the public.

Police apprehended him without incident at noon in the Queenstown Gardens, a tourist haven close to the resort's busy waterfront and CBD.

O'Conner was accused of pulling the knife on the doctor about 2am, police said. "An ambulance crew member found him collapsed outside the Lakes District Hospital shortly before 2am," Mr Millar said.

The doctor's immediate diagnosis was that O'Conner had to be taken to Dunedin Hospital for immediate treatment because of several acute medical conditions, Mr Millar said.

"He did not want to go, produced a knife, threatened staff, then wandered out. The situation left everyone involved very shaken up."

Charges in relation to the incident had been deferred because of O'Conner's medical condition, Mr Millar said.

O'Conner was of no fixed abode, and occasionally passed through Queenstown, Mr Millar said.

Earlier in the day police released a statement saying O'Conner was considered dangerous, and should not be approached. He was described as a European of thin build with a scruffy appearance, long hair and a beard.

The eye-patch was not permanent but was worn because of a chronic eye infection, Mr Millar said.

Queenstown St John operations manager Alana Reid said O'Conner was flown to Dunedin hospital as soon as possible.

"He is not a well man, and is suffering from a number of very acute conditions," she said.

Late yesterday Southern District Health Board chief operating officer Lexie O'Shea said staff at the hospital had received "the usual support" after such an incident.

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- The Southland Times

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