A hospital patient who fractured a nurse’s finger when she tried to stop him disturbing other people on the ward has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Experienced nurse Denise Ellison-Wood had to undergo physiotherapy for more than four months and had problems opening certain types of packaging as a result of the injury caused by 45-year-old Salak Alum during his stay at the Bradford Royal Infirmary last June.

Prosecutor Michael Smith told Bradford Crown Court yesterday that Alum had been banging on his bed with some kind of remote control device at 4.30am and when Mrs Ellison-Wood tried to take it off him he grabbed her hands.

Mr Smith said during the struggle Mrs Ellison-Wood tried to pull away and she felt her finger click. The court heard that the fractured first finger had to be strapped and Mrs Ellison-Wood needed physiotherapy until November. Mr Smith said the complainant was off work for some time and was also concerned about the possibility of developing arthritis in the finger. “She also described having difficulty opening certain sorts of packaging,” said Mr Smith.

Alum, of Chassum Grove, Heaton, Bradford, pleaded guilty in February to a charge of assault, but his lawyer Tom Rushbrooke said he did not mean to hurt the nurse at the time of the incident.

Mr Smith submitted that the offence had involved a professional public servant trying to do her best despite the difficulties caused by the defendant.

He suggested that the sentencing guidelines indicated a sentence range between a community order and 51 weeks in custody. Alum, who uses a wheelchair because of his limited mobility and other health problems, was said to have been in pain and discomfort at the time of the offence, but Mr Rushbrooke conceded he had gone about things in the wrong way. He added: “He deeply regrets that the nurse received the injury. He was holding on to something and she’s tried to take if off him because he was causing a nuisance with it. It was a reckless action.”

After hearing about Alum’s mental and physical problems Judge Colin Burn decided that a four-month prison sentence for the offence could be suspended for two years.

He ordered Alum, who is on benefits, to pay a nominal compensation order of £250 to Mrs Ellison-Wood and the defendant will also be subject to a home curfew between 9pm and 7am for the next four months.

The judge said Mr Alum had behaved “obnoxiously and selfishly” that night and his actions had undoubtably caused distress to others on the ward.

“The real loser in all this is nurse Ellison-Wood.”