Frail OAPs 'mistreated for sport'

Hampshire Chronicle: Relatives of elderly dementia sufferers who were ill-treated at a nursing home by four care workers have told of their anger during a sentencing hearing at Preston Crown Court Relatives of elderly dementia sufferers who were ill-treated at a nursing home by four care workers have told of their anger during a sentencing hearing at Preston Crown Court

"Weak" and "inadequate" management led to the "gratuitous sport" of mistreatment of elderly dementia sufferers at a nursing home, a judge said today.

Residents at Hillcroft nursing home in Slyne-with-Hest, Lancaster, were mocked, bullied and tormented because they would have no memory of the abuse, with one man having his foot stamped on deliberately and another nearly tipped out of his wheelchair.

The vulnerable victims were also pelted with bean bags and balls at their heads "for entertainment".

In November, Carol Ann Moore, 54, Katie Cairns, 27, and Gemma Pearson, 28, were found guilty by a jury at Preston Crown Court of ill-treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity, under the Mental Capacity Act, after a four week trial.

Moore, the care team leader from Lancaster, was found guilty of one count in which she struck a resident on the unit for residents with "challenging behaviour". The court heard she walked up to the male victim and slapped him after a complaint was made from the man's wife about a lack of activities at the home.

Cairns, from Morecambe, was convicted of three charges including stamping on a man's foot, throwing bean bags at another male and mocking another.

Pearson, of Carnforth, was also convicted of attempting to tip another resident out of his wheelchair.

Darren Smith, 35, from Lancaster, admitted ahead of the trial eight counts of ill-treatment in which he threw bean bags or ball at eight residents.

All the offences spanned from May 2010 to September 2011 and related to seven men and one woman, all aged in their 70s or 80s, with the eldest aged 85.

Sentencing them, Judge Michael Byrne said: "Much evidence in the trial revealed that there was, at the relevant times, a lax regime with weak and inadequate management on the unit which allowed the kind of conduct to carry on undetected and without proper and adequate control."

He said the offences committed were "an indictment" on Hillcroft management.

"A lack of proper management allowed a culture to develop where conduct of this sort was allowed to carry on," he said.

He continued: "Some of the offences were gratuitous sport at the expense of of vulnerable victims.

"Each of these defendants broke the trust placed in them."

Moore, of Ripon Avenue, was jailed for four months; Cairns, of Riverview Court, was jailed for five months; and Smith, of Howgill Avenue, was imprisoned for eight months.

Pearson, of Hill Street, was given a 12-month community order with supervision and told to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work.

She was told that she would have gone to jail if she had succeeded in tipping the patient out of the wheelchair.

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