Care worker slapped dementia sufferer

STEPHEN PULLINGER Colleagues looked on stunned as a care worker slapped an 89-year-old dementia sufferer round the face, a court heard yesterday.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Colleagues looked on stunned as a care worker slapped an 89-year-old dementia sufferer round the face, a court heard yesterday.

Linda Pembroke, 55, described as a "lady of previous exemplary character", had denied common assault but was found guilty by Yarmouth magistrates.

Adjourning the case for sentence, the bench told her that a lengthy community punishment order was likely.

"What makes this worse is that this was a very vulnerable person and you were a carer in a position of trust," she was told.

Sara Borthwick, prosecuting, told magistrates how the incident had occurred on March 15 at the Norfolk County Council-run Rosewood Day Centre, formerly known as Magdalen House, in Gorleston.

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The victim, Alzheimer's sufferer Jack Wright, had been waiting in the foyer for his bus home with a group of other patients.

Pembroke was standing next to Mr Wright, who became agitated at going-home time, and tried to stop him going out of the door before his bus arrived.

Fellow care worker and prosecution witness Della Wallace told the court how Pembroke pulled Mr Wright's hand off the door handle.

He apparently lost balance and grabbed hold of Pembroke's upper right arm, nipping the skin.

Ms Wallace said: "After he let go she looked at her arm and then she slapped him in the face.

"She meant to do what she did. I was stunned because I could not believe what I had witnessed."

Confused by the attack, she said Mr Wright had lashed out at another member of staff, Jackie Haylett, punching her in the chest.

Pembroke, of Trinity Place, Yarmouth, told magistrates that she had yelled, 'let go, you're hurting me,' when Mr Wright had grabbed her arm, but he was only concerned about getting out of the door.

She had then swung her left arm round with the intention of placing it on his shoulder to persuade him to let loose, but had inadvertently caught him in the mouth with the end of her fingers.

She said: "I just stood there for a time not saying a word. I was so shocked and stunned by what had happened."

Kevin Batch, defending, said Pembroke had worked at the centre for three years and had been a carer for more than 10 years - she was a "lady of exemplary character" and had never faced disciplinary proceedings before.

He told the bench that as a result of the conviction she would be facing dismissal and would be unable to find another job as a carer.

That, and the blemish on her character, would be worse than any sentence that was passed.

Lorna Payne, the county council's assistant director for community care, said: "We take any allegation of abuse very seriously indeed and behaviour like this is completely unacceptable in our service. We have worked closely with the police throughout this case through our joint adult protection unit and can confirm that we suspended Mrs Pembroke as soon as we were aware of the allegation.

"Now the court case has reached its conclusion we will be able to proceed with our own disciplinary process."