A judge has criticised a Cork hospital after hearing that a teenage girl undergoing treatment for life-threatening injuries was sexually assaulted by a 63-year-old male patient with whom she was sharing a ward. 

Cork Circuit Criminal Court was told that the assault on the 17-year-old girl at Cork University Hospital (CUH) by Andrew O'Donovan from Butlersgift, Drimoleague, was only interrupted because his heart monitor began to accelerate. 

A nurse spotted the change in the monitor reading and went to the ward to investigate. 

O'Donovan pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the teenager on 14 May 2018.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin heard that the girl had sustained life-threatening injuries and was being treated in CUH.

She was admitted to a ward, which also contained three adult men.

O'Donovan approached the girl in the early hours of 14 May 2018 and sexually assaulted her while she lay in bed. 

Judge Ó Donnabhain questioned the management of the ward system at CUH.

Specifically he queried a system that allowed a young girl to be placed in close proximity to a man with serious mental health issues spanning several decades. 

He said that  it was "a very, very troubling case".

The judge said: "You have to question the management of the ward system at CUH that allowed a young girl to be placed in close proximity to a man who was known to have a history of schizophrenic tendencies and a long psychiatric history."

He said the hospital management and supervision involved had to be queried and that management needed to "buck up".

Taking the guilty plea into account and the history of mental illness in the case, Judge Ó Donnabháin imposed an 18-month prison sentence. He suspended the sentence in its entirety. 

The man had attended court in the morning but failed to show for his sentencing hearing in the afternoon.