West Lothian nurse found guilty of abusing dementia patients at Livingston care home

A nurse faces being struck off the professional register after being convicted of abusing dementia patients in her care.

Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 9:28 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 9:29 am
Thompson appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court

Beverley Thompson, 47, had denied five counts of ill-treating or wilfully neglecting elderly residents in the Livingston Care Home, West Lothian.

She was convicted of committing four of the offences while she worked at the home in September and October last year after three care assistants gave what a sheriff called “credible and compelling” evidence against her.

Livingston Sheriff Court was told Thompson lifted patient Janet Mathieson and forcibly pushed her from behind as she walked along a corridor, as a result of which she lost her balance and almost fell.

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She also placed her leg against the stomach of resident Ann Mearns as the woman shouted “You’re hurting my belly!” and forcibly pinned her to a chair.

The court was told she left another member of staff “gobsmacked” when she dragged patient Betty Murray by the wrists and forcibly placed her in a chair.

She turned to other staff members and told them: “You saw that. I never used any violence whatsoever.”

She was further convicted of barricading a door to prevent Betty from leaving a room, forcibly pushing her down onto a bed and trapping her there by wrapping the bedclothes tightly around her body.

The court heard evidence that she turned to a colleague and remarked: “That’s the way you settle Betty!”

She was acquitted of pinching resident Margaret Burns by the nose and pulling her head back so she could pour medication down her throat after the sheriff ruled there was insufficient corroboration to convict her.

Thompson, of Limefield Crescent, Bathgate, strongly disputed all the allegations and claimed in her defence: “It just didn’t happen.”

Returning guilty verdicts in the four linked charges, Sheriff Martin Edington said he was satisfied that the principle of mutual corroboration meant there was sufficient evidence to convict her.

He said he found the evidence of the care home assistants and their manager both credible and convincing and highlighted the evidence of carer Jasmine Kelly about why she had not reported the incident at the time as “particularly compelling”.

He said: “She said it was because she could lose her job and other staff had reported things and not been believed.”

By comparison he said the accused’s evidence veered between being “strident” and “evasive”. He told her: “I wasn’t persuaded by your medical evidence of arthritis.

"You can work over 50 hours a week in a job that’s physically demanding but you can't stand on one leg and put your leg over someone’s body?

“I have no hesitation in rejecting your evidence and the evidence of the defence witnesses.”

During Thompson’s trial she said she had qualified as a State Registered Nurse six years ago and worked at the dementia unit for three years.

Now unemployed, she strenuously denied she had become irritable at work as a result of tiredness from working extra shifts.

Three nursing assistants who worked at the home in Dedridge, Livingston, gave evidence that they were “shocked” and “distressed” when they witnessed Thompson abusing residents in their care.

She said they had not reported the incidents immediately because of fears about their job security and the relative seniority of the accused’s post and said they wanted to make sure other members of staff supported their claims before coming forward.

Lesley Cunningham, defending, said the evidence had revealed a “divide” between nursing staff such as Miss Thompson and the care assistants, adding: “Three care assistants we’ve heard did not speak in support of Miss Thompson but a nurse has.”

Sheriff Edington called for background reports and told Thompson, who has no previous convictions, that he would sentence her on 13 December.