Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

The man charged with attacking a nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) in September has pleaded guilty to one of the three charges he faced.

Neale Rex Heath, 62, pleaded guilty on Monday in Abbotsford provincial court to assault causing bodily harm.

Two counts of assault with a weapon are expected to be stayed at sentencing.

Heath was initially charged with aggravated assault but that was later downgraded.

The BC Nurses Union (BCNU) released details about the attack on Sept. 26, saying that two days earlier a patient had struck a nurse with a dumbbell in a medical unit at ARH.

RELATED: ‘This should never have happened:’ BCNU president says attack on nurse was preventable

RELATED: Daughter of patient charged in Abbotsford nurse attack says she warned hospital of danger

The BCNU said the nurse sustained a broken jaw, fractured cheek bones, damaged teeth and other serious injuries.

The union also said at the time that the perpetrator of the attack had been assessed and was found to have “violent tendencies.”

After Heath was charged, his daughter said that, before the assault, she had repeatedly warned health workers about the danger posed by her mentally ill father.

She said that her dad had attacked his wife the previous week while he was in a state of psychosis and having delusions.

According to provincial court records, Heath was charged on Jan. 10 of this year with an assault in Hope on Sept. 18, 2019 – six days before the hospital attack.

Heath is next due to appear in court for the hospital assault on Feb. 20, when a psychiatric report is scheduled to be presented.

The judge could decide to proceed with sentencing that day or reserve judgment for a later date.

– with files from Tyler Olsen, Abbotsford News

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