Sligo District Court has heard that a nurse who pleaded guilty to assaulting a patient by putting tape on his mouth was suffering from stress due to the pressure of his work.

However, the court was told that he would not be an ongoing risk as a nurse in the future.

Bimbo Paden, who is 39 and originally from the Philippines, admitted taping the mouth of a patient at a high dependency unit at St John's Hospital in Sligo when another patient became distressed and agitated by the man's constant shouting.

The court heard previously that Paden had been on his own looking after nine patients when the incident occurred last June and that a Health Service Executive report found that his workload was inequitable, unreasonable and unsafe.

He has been suspended from his job since the incident.

Today the court heard details of a report by a consultant psychiatrist with expertise in the area of stress.

The report found that Paden took full responsibility for what he had done and felt very ashamed and remorseful.

He has suffered panic attacks and insomnia since the incident and dreads leaving home.

He is currently on anti-depressant medication and is receiving counselling.

The report by Dr Patricia Noone said that Paden rarely took his breaks during work because of the workload.

He rarely complained about the workload, finding it easier to get on with the work than to complain.

He was working in a very stressful environment which was inadequately staffed and it was likely that he had been under severe stress and pressure for several months prior to the incident, she said.

Dr Noone's report said that Paden was suffering from stress fatigue and anxiety due to the pressure of his work which interfered with his normal rational and caring behaviour as a nurse.

The report said that while there was no justification for what Paden had done, it was the psychiatrist's opinion he had never previously shown evidence of such behaviour and she believed that with the treatment he is receiving and ongoing supervision "he would not be an ongoing risk in his work as a nurse in the future".

The report noted that Paden had received glowing references from colleagues and supervisors and it would be a severe blow to him to lose the capacity to work as a nurse.

Judge John Kilraine adjourned the case for sentencing on 24 April.