Abusive man jailed for attacking and threatening ambulance staff 40 times

John Dannaher made dozens of 999 calls despite his GP confirming he had no serious medical problems

Ian Johnston
Monday 26 July 2021 23:29
<p>Paramedic Grace Harman was among Dannaher’s regular victims </p>

Paramedic Grace Harman was among Dannaher’s regular victims

A man who attacked and threatened ambulance staff around 40 times has been jailed for almost half a year.

John Dannaher, 33, routinely spat, assaulted and threatened London Ambulance Service paramedics and across the south east of England over several years, including threatening to murder women in the service and to follow them home.

Clinical team manager Scott Lummes spent two years building a case against Dannaher after the serial offender abused a colleague at Kings Cross station, shouting and screaming at her as she tried to treat him.

Lummes found that Dannaher had made dozens of 999 calls despite his GP confirming that he had no serious medical problems.

Lummes discovered around 40 separate reports made against Dannher, which included physical assaults, spitting and verbal threats, but which resulted in only one custodial sentence.

In a statement from London Ambulance Service, Lummes said: “He was particularly abusive to women, including making threats of murder and following them home.

“I was determined for him to be held to account for his actions and that this type of bullying and threatening behaviour would not be tolerated.”

Dannaher received a Criminal Behaviour Order, which banned him from being in any UK ambulance unless he was so ill he was physically unable to take himself to a hospital.

However, after Dannaher continued to harass and abuse ambulance staff, he was jailed for 181 days at Colchester Magistrates Court, where he pleaded guilty to breaching the order in June.

Paramedic Grace Harman, 24, who made the initial report which sparked the investigation, said: “I was trying to assess him but he was shouting and screaming.

“He kept saying ‘I’m much bigger than you’. I did not feel safe as he was so aggressive and threatening.”

Grace’s crewmate called the police, who sat in the back of the ambulance with Dannaher while he was taken to hospital.

Grace added: “I’m so glad London Ambulance Service has a zero tolerance approach as we can’t just accept this kind of behaviour.”

There have been 171 reported physical attacks on London Ambulance Service and 252 reports of verbal abuse between April and June this year.

Of the physical attacks, 80 of those could be prosecuted and so far these have resulted in six prosecutions.

Crews in London are now receiving body-worn cameras and two violence reduction officers now support staff who have been assaulted and work with police to increase prosecutions, as part of a #NotPartoftheJob campaign.

London Ambulance Service Chief Paramedic Dr John Martin said: “Our people care for patients with commitment and compassion and must be free to do so without fear of violence.

“Dannaher’s behaviour towards crews who were trying to help him was clearly unacceptable and he is now serving a custodial sentence. We will always seek conviction for offenders who abuse our staff or volunteers.”