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Man who smeared blood in hospital jailed for six months


Robert Pennell is seen in Corner Brook Provincial court in this 2009 file photo.

A man with a lengthy criminal record, who has been diagnosed with hepatitis C and smeared his blood all over a hospital room has been sent to prison for six months.

Robert Milford Pennell, 56, was apologetic and resigned to another stint in prison when he was sentenced by Judge Wayne Gorman in Corner Brook Tuesday morning.

His lawyer, Brian Dunphy, told the court his client has multiple mental health issues, including drug addiction and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. He noted that Pennell, who pleaded guilty to six charges and had several others withdrawn by the Crown, had become frustrated when he was refused admittance to Western Memorial Regional Hospital’s psychiatric unit the day of the blood-smearing incident.

On June 26, 2012, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was called to the hospital in Corner Brook to deal with Pennell after he had presented himself in the psychiatric unit. He had requested to be admitted, but was denied and agitated by the hospital’s decision.

Pennell had a broken razor blade on his person. Irate that he was not going to be admitted, he took the blade and began cutting himself with it.

While being treated for the self-inflicted wounds, Pennell threatened a female nurse. The court heard Pennell said something along the lines of “I’m going to put this place on the f***ing blink.”

When two male medical personnel were called to help handle the situation, Pennell became more enraged. He made an unsuccessful attempt to hit one of the men with his fist, but struck a nurse instead.

He was placed in a room and given a hospital gown to wear. He was also told not to remove the dressings on his wounds.

Still not settled down, Pennell began smearing his blood throughout the room.

In addition to charges of assault and uttering threats, Pennell also pleaded guilty to a breaching a court order in relation to a separate incident in which he violated a condition to stay away from his former wife.

Pennell has prior convictions for violent offences, property crimes and breaches of court orders, dating back to 1974. Crown attorney Adam Sparkes said these most recent offences were less serious than others on his “substantial record” and that his most recent crimes seem to be related to his drug addiction.

Even a comment from Gorman regarding how Pennell seemed much more composed during his latest interaction with the court reflected Pennell’s familiarity to the legal system.

Sparkes and Dunphy made a joint submission that Pennell should be given six months in prison, followed by 12 months of probation and a five-year weapons prohibition, all of which Gorman endorsed.

Before being sentenced, Pennell told Gorman that he has had a hard time in life, especially for the last 20 years and that he had suffered abuse as a child. He apologized to the court for his behaviour and thanked Gorman for considering the joint submission.

“Hopefully, you get some closure to what happened to you as a child,” the judge told him.

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