Carer is cleared of abuse charge

Natasha McPhillips. Picture: 'Vic Rodrick
Natasha McPhillips. Picture: 'Vic Rodrick
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A CARER has been cleared of abusing dementia sufferers at a West Lothian care home.

Natasha McPhillips was found not guilty of wilfully neglecting resident Jane Findlay by dragging her out of bed and repeatedly swearing and acting aggressively towards other residents.

McPhillips, of Whitedalehead Road, Whitburn, West Lothian, had denied the charges.

She was working at Livingston Care Home when the alleged incidents were reported on January 6 this year.

Livingston Sheriff Court heard that residents at the home could be “aggressive” and “challenging” as a result of their illness.

The court was shown photographs of alleged bruises on Ms Findlay’s arms and legs and heard evidence that she was bleeding from an injury to her toe.

Care worker Laura Stevenson, 34, said that McPhillips was “stressed out” that morning and heard her say to a distressed new patient: “That lady’s a freak!”

Justine Agnew, 37, who was “acting senior” on the floor where McPhillips was working, said she saw her “grab” a key off the resident and call her a “freak”.

She said she believed it was unacceptable to treat a resident in this way and she reported the matter to the management.

Returning a not guilty verdict, Sheriff Martin Edington said residents at the home were among the most vulnerable members of society, which could only be judged by how it cared for its most vulnerable.

He highlighted that dementia sufferers such as those at the home could be some of the most difficult category to deal with and sometimes a carer would need “the patience of a saint”.

He told McPhillips: “Your behaviour that day fell short of the required standard. The issue for me is not whether you should be sacked for what you did but whether it was a criminal offence.

“Not one of the Crown witnesses had it in for you, but their evidence – while credible – was not reliable, with some of it confused and contradictory.

“I have come to the view that the Crown has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and I find you not guilty.”