Student Nurse and Care Assistant Sentenced for Hurling Gravel at Dementia Patients
Wednesday, 15th January 2020
A student nurse and a care assistant who hurled gravel at dementia patients then tried to pin the blame on other "confused" sufferers are facing jail.
The 23- and 24-year-olds filmed themselves throwing stones and rolled up gloves at elderly residents at a care home in Salford, Greater Manchester. They targeted up to seven vulnerable patients who had either dementia or Alzheimers and were "unable to defend themselves", laughing and joking at their distress and pleas for them to stop during a shift at the 31-bed unit on July 15, 2018.
None of the victims were able to articulate who was responsible for the mistreatment because of the memory loss and confusion brought on by their condition. But the pair were outed as the culprits when a colleague saw one of them loading her pockets with stones from the driveway outside the care home. Some stones were also found on the floor of the victims' rooms.
Upon realising that they were at risk of being exposed, they tried to shift the blame onto an innocent senior colleague, claiming she took drugs. They even suggested that other care home residents were responsible.
In a series of Facebook messages uncovered by police, the women warned each other to delete incriminating pictures and videos on their mobile phones "to be on the safe side".
Both defendants denied the charges but were convicted of ill-treating a person without mental capacity at Manchester Magistrates' Court. District Judge James Hatton said:
"Both defendants provided care for people who had mental impairments. They lacked any capacity and would not be able to defend themselves. Both these defendants lied in interview and blamed each other, two colleagues and sought to shift responsibility onto other residents. They clearly knew what they were doing was wrong and amounted to ill-treatment. What other inference could I possibly draw from people that are throwing stones and laughing at people they should be caring for? Both were present, both were involved and both laughed. They are as guilty as one another and they stand convicted and at risk of an immediate custodial sentence."
The student nurse had told police that she was "just being immature" and her behaviour was "unprofessional", but that she had "learnt her lesson". She has since dropped out of her university course.
The care assistant told police that her co-defendant had a habit of throwing things at residents and that they were both being "stupid".
Their senior colleague told the hearing that she suspected the student nurse was behind the mistreatment when she saw her loading her pockets with stones. She said:
"I saw her stand up from bending down and put something into her pocket. A couple of stones dropped out of her hand and she put her hands into her pockets and returned through the main entrance. Upon returning one of the residents was shouting 'stop it, why are you doing that, get away. It was over and over again and she was quite distressed. Both defendants were in the doorway of her room. I went into the room and there were some stones on the floor under her chair and in her lap. I spoke to her but she wasn't able to tell me what had happened, so I just reassured her. Then I could hear the resident next door shouting 'stop doing that, don't throw them at me, don't throw them at me. I went into her room and there were stones on the floor. I asked them what they were doing but they were just laughing and didn't give me proper reasons."
The defendants were each sentenced to 20 weeks.