Doctor takes the stand in hospital assault trial

The trial began Monday for Gregory Stanley Nield who faces one count of aggravated assault

Officers of the BC Sheriff Services lead Gregory Stanley Nield, 30, of Summerland to a waiting vehcle at the back of the Penticton provicial courthouse Dec. 9, 2014 after he was remanded by a judge for a a 30-day psychiatric assessment. Mark Brett/Western News

The trial is underway for the man accused of attacking a doctor in the Penticton Regional Hospital psych ward in 2014.

Gregory Stanley Nield, 31, wearing a blue-grey suit, pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault in front of the 12-person jury in Penticton Supreme Court on April 3.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Firestone said the alleged assault on Dr. Rajeev Sheoran on Dec. 5, 2014 is a “textbook example of a circumstantial case.”

“You are not going to hear any evidence of precisely what occured on Dec. 5, 2014 when Dr. Rajeev Sheoran and the accused, Gregory Nield, went into an interview room in the inpatient psychiatric unit at Penticton General Hospital,” Firestone said. “You will hear what happened leading up to the two men going into that room. You will also hear what happened after, when only the accused, Mr. Nield, walked out.”

Sheoran took the stand Monday, the second Crown witness in the trial, testifying he sustained multiple injuries as a result of the alleged attack which require ongoing treatment to this day.

Read more: Jury selection begins for alleged assault of Penticton doctor

Sheoran, a licensed psychiatrist in Penticton since 2010, recalled the events of Dec. 5, 2014 after he and Nield entered the interview room. He said after discussing treatment, medication and Nield’s certification under the Mental Health Act, Dr. Sheoran informed him he was unable to see his daughter. He testified Nield had the daughter with an ex-partner who was in town but was leaving soon.

“I informed him of that, after which I was assaulted and I don’t remember very much else,” Dr. Sheoran said.

Dr. Sheoran said Nield was bent over as if he was looking for something when he then hit Dr. Sheoran in the face.

He remembers little afterwards other than reaching out for the alarm button, when he testified Nield hit him again. He remembers hearing he would need to be transferred to Kelowna, his wife talking to him and his children nearby.

“They were very shocked. Very, very upset,” Dr. Sheoran said.

Dr. Sheoran testified to his injuries, including cognative injuries still affecting him to this day, having his jaw wired for five to six weeks, dental work which is still ongoing, an prosthetic implant in his cheekbone, and two days in Kelowna hospital after he was sent there for surgery following the incident. Dr. Sheoran also said he is still not taking on a full workload since the incident, and has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

Tessmer did not cross-examine the witness.

“I think he’s dead.”

The first Crown witness, registered psychiatric nurse Nicole Reichenbach, was working in the inpatient psychiatric unit at the time of the incident. She testified Nield was calm prior to meeting with Sheoran.

She observed the two enter the interview room and then heard “several loud bangs.” While attempting to locate the source of the noise with another nurse, she said, the door to the interview room had opened and Nield walked out.

“He was holding his hand as if it was in pain. He looked behind him into the interview room and he said ‘I think he’s dead,’” Reichenbach said.

She described the way Nield said the phrase as “very calm.”

“We found Dr. Sheoran in his computer chair he was sitting in slumped in the corner and he was bleeding profusely from his face,” Reichenbach said.

Attending to Sheoran with another nurse, Rechenbach said she lost track of where Nield was after leaving the interview room. She later saw him holding a pool cue around the billiard table in the common area of the ward.

“He was walking around with a pool cue as if he was going to start playing pool,” she said, noting she couldn’t recall whether he actually started playing pool or not.

Read more: Patient who attacked doctor sent for psych assesment

During cross examination, Nield’s defence counsel Stan Tessmer had Reichenbach confirm the information on forms filled out a few days earlier on Nov. 27. She confirmed Nield was an involuntary patient in the psych ward, certified by two doctors under the Mental Health Act. She confirmed the information on the form which came from her conversation with Nield, who said he had used magic mushrooms for the last 30 days to relieve painful migraines.

The diagnosis, though she did not make it herself, was “drug-induced psychosis,” either coming from doctors notes or the emergency room file, she testified.

The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.

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