May 18 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
A care home resident with dementia was “rapped” over the knuckles with a plastic comb by a mobile hairdresser, a court has heard.
Christopher Westgarth, 60, of Buxton Road, Spixworth, appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court where he pleaded guilty to one count of assault on December 12 last year.
Lisa Britton, prosecuting, said Westgarth, a mobile hairdresser, had been working at the St Mary’s care home, North Walsham Road, Crostwick, and was cutting the hair of one lady who has dementia when the incident occurred.
She said witnesses at the home saw “the lady in distress after being rapped across the knuckles with a comb”.
The court heard that Westgarth said the lady had been putting her hands up and had pulled the rollers out.
Gavin Cowe, mitigating, said his client, who pleaded guilty at the first time of asking, was a man of previous good character and a hairdresser all his adult life, who had been visiting that home for about eight years.
Mr Cowe said this particular resident, who was also hard of hearing, had caused problems in the past, prompting him to not want to cut her hair any more. However, he agreed after he was asked by her daughter.
On the day in question Westgarth had been putting rollers in her hair which she had pulled out.
Mr Cowe said Westgarth “gave in to the exasperation or frustration he was feeling and hit the back of her hand with a comb”.
He said Westgarth did it once and immediately regretted it, adding that the resident suffered no lasting injury.
District judge Peter Veits, who described it as a “sad offence”, said: “Dealing with dementia is a terrible thing, seeing how people deteriorate. They are still human beings. They behave irrationally at times, but still deserve our respect and certainly don’t deserve to be assaulted.”
Sentencing Westgarth on Monday Mr Veits fined him £200 and said he accepted he had led a “blameless” life up until the offence, but on that day had let “frustration get the better of you”.
Westgarth was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £20 surcharge.
A spokesman for Four Seasons Health Care, on behalf of St Mary’s care home, said: “We are grateful to the member of our staff who raised concerns about this incident.
“We notified the local authority safeguarding team and the police, so triggering the investigation that resulted in the court hearing. Mr Westgarth no longer provides hairdressing services to the home.
“The wellbeing and comfort of residents is always our priority and any concern about conduct or care is notified to the authorities.”
Nearly 3,000 people have supported a Facebook campaign demanding safety improvements on the A47 near Dereham set up after the latest fatal crash.
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