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Care Workers Jailed Over Abuse 'For Sport'
Three care workers who abused elderly dementia sufferers at a nursing home have been jailed.
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.
Darren Smith, 35, from Lancaster, who admitted ahead of the trial eight counts of ill-treatment in which he threw bean bags or ball at eight residents, has been jailed for eight months.
Moore, the care team leader from Lancaster, was found guilty of one count in which she struck a resident. She has been sentenced to four months in prison.
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. She has been jailed for five months.
Pearson, of Carnforth, was also convicted of attempting to tip another resident out of his wheelchair. She was given a 12-month community order with supervision and told to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work.
Following the convictions, the families of the victims said they thought there had been failings by the owners and management of Hillcroft, Lancashire County Council Adult Services, NHS Lancashire and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
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 vulnerable victims.
"Each of these defendants broke the trust placed in them."
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Hulme, of Lancashire Constabulary, said all four had showed a complete disregard for the well-being of the people they had been entrusted to care for.
"Further to that, their ill-treatment was directed at some of the most vulnerable members of our community - these people couldn't speak out or defend themselves.
"Their behaviour was utterly contemptible and I can only hope they will now reflect on their actions and see just how cowardly their conduct was."
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