Jailed for assaults on care home residents

St Michaels View. Sean Abbott.
St Michaels View. Sean Abbott.

SEAN Abbott left two care home residents “screaming and in tears” after carrying out “painful and intimate” procedures on the elderly pair.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that, despite having no medical qualifications, the 22-year-old carried out a “wholly degrading and humiliating” act on John McEwan, 84, and Gladys Guilbert, 89, at St Michael’s View care home.

Abbott admitted four charges of assault in relation to the two patients, who have both since died.

Anne Richardson, prosecuting, told the court: “The crown’s case is that, although there was a culture of neglect, inept and woefully inadequate record-keeping and poor management strategy within the home, this defendant, on more than one occasion, carried out a procedure upon vulnerable, frail old people that he knew was wrong, for which he was not trained and which he knew or was reckless as to whether any pain and suffering and injury would occur as a result. Mr McEwan and Mrs Guilbert were two residents within a care home which was supposed to care for their needs and treat them with respect and dignity.

“The defendant’s callous actions afforded them neither and caused them pain, extreme distress, injury and bleeding after an act which was wholly degrading and humiliating.”

Judge John Evans jailed Abbott, of Gainsborough Avenue, South Shields, for 12 months and said while fellow employee Daphne Joseph acted unlawfully in failing to call for medical help in the death of Joyce Wordingham, she “cared very much for the residents”. But he told Abbott: “Her failing arose principally from inadequate training and management regime which has been described as being not fit for purpose.

“Her criminal culpability, it was found, was at the lower end of the scale.

“That, I am afraid, cannot be said about your treatment of your victims.

“You had no regard or respect for the dignity of the two individuals.”

Judge Evans said it was “extraordinary” no steps were taken at the time after one of Abbott’s colleagues who witnessed one of the assaults reported what she had seen to a more senior member of staff. The judge added: “The shortcomings of other staff who might be said to be partially if not equally culpable is a consideration to which I have regard.

“It may well be there are others, indeed some in a more senior position, that should be sitting in the dock with you.”

The judge said despite the “systematic failures” of the home, Abbott’s offending meant a custodial sentence was inevitable.

Judge Evans told him: “You inflicted pain on two elderly residents who were unable to prevent it.”

Caroline Goodwin, defending, said Abbott has been held up as a scapegoat for what happened at the home while others have gone unpunished.

She said: “In many respects, he was set up to fail. If there had been adequate training from the word go, a lot of these matters would and could have been avoided.

“The chief executives of Southern Cross are just moving off and away – not for Sean Abbott, the responsibility he is now bearing is over and above that which is, in all conscience, fair.”

St Michael’s View is now under new ownership and in the hands of Countrywide Care Homes after the collapse of Southern Cross.

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