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Care worker jailed for abuse of “incredibly vulnerable” elderly people with dementia

PUBLISHED: 06:39 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:57 09 January 2018

Shari Childs at Norwich Crown Court. Shari Childs has denied six allegations of ill treatment of elderly residents with dementia at Hillcrest Care Home. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Shari Childs at Norwich Crown Court. Shari Childs has denied six allegations of ill treatment of elderly residents with dementia at Hillcrest Care Home. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A care worker who bullied and abused “incredibly vulnerable” elderly people with dementia has been jailed for nine months.

Jailing Shari Childs at Norwich Crown Court, Judge Stephen Holt said “a message must be sent out” that abuse of vulnerable people will not be met with leniency.

Childs, 38, was convicted in December of seven counts of wilfully neglecting or ill-treating a person lacking mental capacity between December 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015.

During a four day trial last year, the court heard how Childs had subjected a number of residents at Hillcrest Care Home to “low grade bullying”. The jury cleared her of two counts but she was convicted unanimously on seven.

Despite her conviction, Childs still does not accept she mistreated residents in her care, the court heard.

Judge Holt also praised a whistle blower at the Thorpe St Andrew care home, who was “buddied up” with Childs at the time of the offences.

“Yanic Anacoura is one who comes out of this sorry affair with much credit,” said Judge Holt. “He had the courage to blow the whistle.”

Mitigating for Childs, Jonathan Goodman said she had previously had an “unblemished history in the care industry”.

“This is a lady very unlikely to trouble the courts again,” he said. “She was out of control at a time in her life when her husband had been sacked.

“She is not going to pose a risk in the future because her career is finished.”

Judge Holt told Childs she had set an “appalling example” to her colleagues and left her victims “terrified”.

“These residents were all elderly with dementia problems,” he said. “Old people with that disease are incredibly vulnerable to abuse. Sadly something happened in your life which changed you. You behaviour changed towards some of the most vulnerable residents suffering from the horrors of dementia.

“Friends and relatives of such vulnerable old people must have confidence they are going to be well looked after. Older persons with these kind of needs deserve to be looked after with patience and decency.

“People must understand - if they abuse in a cruel way elderly, very vulnerable people, custody is almost inevitable.”

Childs was sentenced to nine months for the most serious offence, and six months for each of the other six counts, to run concurrently.

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