TWO nurses in a Gwent psychiatric hospital were attacked by a patient, a court heard. One of them, Tony Barbe, was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured left cheekbone and haemorrhaging inside his left eye.

Cardiff crown court was told how his colleague, Deborah Higley, a staff nurse, was punched in the attack at Llanarth Court Hospital near Raglan.

Robin Glencoates McAlpine, aged 50, who had been transferred from a Plymouth hospital, was found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Barbe and guilty of common assault on his colleague.

Prosecutor Jonathan Austin said that on March 2 last year Mr Barbe was on duty in Teilo Ward and had a conversation with McAlpine, who accused him of "winding him up". The next thing Mr Barbe could remember was coming to with "ringing in his head and a loss of vision", the court was told.

He said he looked up and saw McAlpine struggling with Mrs Higley. In evidence, Mr Barbe said McAlpine had displayed a "marked degree of hostility and used profane language".

He said that at no time had he tried to restrain McAlpine and had only wanted to calm him down.

Mrs Higley said she saw the other nurse punched in the face before she was also hit in the face. McAlpine, who has since been discharged from the hospital, said Mr Barbe had been belligerent towards him and at one point "launched himself at him".

As a result, he said, he lashed out instinctively and the nurse fell to the floor. Mrs Higley, he added, "almost came flying" at him and he also acted in self defence. Sentence was adjourned for reports and McAlpine was remanded in custody.