Radio Sandwell News

Hillcroft nursing home staff sentenced for resident abuse

2014-01-10 18:27:33

There are five privately-owned Hillcroft nursing homes in north Lancashire

Four care workers have been sentenced for abusing elderly residents at a care home in Lancashire.

Darren Smith, 35, from Lancaster, had pleaded guilty and was jailed for eight months at Preston Crown Court.

Katie Cairns, 27, was jailed for five months, Carol Moore, 54, was sentenced to four months and Gemma Pearson, 28, was given a 12-month community order.

The abuse took place from May 2010 to September 2011 at Hillcroft nursing home in Slyne-with-Hest near Lancaster.

'Feelings of guilt'

They were charged with ill-treatment and wilful neglect of a person with lack of capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Residents were mocked, bullied and tormented because they would have no memory of the abuse.

The court was told one man had his foot stamped on deliberately and another was nearly tipped out of his wheelchair.

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

The offences related to eight victims, seven men and one woman, all aged in their 70s or 80s, with the eldest aged 85.

A son of one, who chose to stand in the witness box to give his witness impact statement in person, said he was "angry".

Michael Rowlinson, whose father Norman suffers from Alzheimer's disease, said: "We had feelings of guilt for not being able to look after him.

"Our feelings of guilt only worsened when we found out that dad had been subjected to humiliation and ill-treatment by those who were trusted to care for him."

"We feel angry this could have been allowed to happen to dad and sorry that mum had to learn about it," he added.

The son of the man whose foot was stamped on thanked the whistleblowers who were "brave enough" to come forward.

Not referred

After a trial in November, Cairns, of Riverview Court, Morecambe was convicted of three charges.

Team leader Moore, of Ripon Avenue in Lancaster, was found guilty of one count in which she struck a resident.

The jury found Pearson, of Hill Street, Carnforth tipped a resident out of a wheelchair. She was also ordered to complete 40 hours of community service by the court.

Smith, of Howgill Avenue, admitted eight counts of ill-treatment ahead of the trial. He was seen in bed with a distressed resident.

They had previously been suspended from the home following abuse allegations made by a receptionist and a cleaner in September 2011.

But they returned to work after being handed warnings as a result of an internal investigation and the matter was not referred to the police or social services for several months.


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