“IT HAS been ten months of torture.”

Those were the words of a Southampton mental health nurse who was wrongly convicted of slapping a violent patient while trying to restrain him.

Ismael Peerally broke down in tears when his conviction for assaulting his patient, Caleb Brewer, was quashed by judges at Southampton Crown Court.

The dad-of-four told the Daily Echo that he should have been praised for his actions that day because if he had not taken control, someone could have been killed.

The court heard that Mr Peerally, who has been working as a mental health nurse since 1989, was convicted of assault by battery in July, resulting in his dismissal from the job he loved.

The 49-year-old had been working at Antelope House, in Southampton, a psychiatric hospital, when it was claimed he slapped a patient across the face on December 23.

The court heard that the patient had become violent when staff at the unit tried to medicate him and transfer him to a more secure ward.

During the struggle to restrain him, Mr Peerally was kicked in the groin and it was then that the patient claimed Mr Peerally slapped him.

However, Mr Peerally always denied the allegation, claiming he used his hands to restrain the patient’s head and chin for his own safety and that of his colleagues.

In court, Mr Peerally said: “I should have been praised for that. I realised what was going to happen, the worst was going to happen and today we could be in court for another case.

This patient could have freed himself and killed somebody.”

Judge Gary Burrell and two magistrates came to a majority verdict that upheld Mr Peerally’s appeal, ruling that he applied an amount of force required to restrain the patient but did not hit out in a deliberate or reckless way.

Mr Peerally later said: “It has been ten months of torture for me and my family. I have never hit anybody in my whole life. I love my job and all I did was care for people, even the most dangerous of people, because with my skill and experience I know I have the ability to talk to them. When I went back to work after the incident, the police came and escorted me out as if I was a criminal. It was torture.”

A spokesman for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust said an internal appeal hearing would now take place next month.