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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Carer took sick photos of patients in Cumbrian home

A callous care worker took and then shared humiliating pictures of the elderly dementia patients she was supposed to be looking after.

Magistrates said the crimes committed by 20-year-old Claire Strong when she was a care assistant at Penrith’s Bupa-run Beacon Edge Nursing Home were so serious she must be sentenced by a judge.

She was one of three people who appeared before magistrates in Carlisle to answer allegations that they had subjected vulnerable residents to “systematic abuse”.

Strong, of Crooklands View, Clifton, near Penrith, admitted three counts of ill-treating three elderly patients.

Prosecutor Diane Jackson described how the defendant had three times taken a picture or made videos of vulnerable patients in embarrassing or humiliating situations. Another picture she took, the court heard, showed a note for a deaf resident which said: “I’m going to kill you.”

Strong later sent the pictures she took in the home to people she knew.

In court, her defence lawyer Craig Hunn told magistrates: “What she has done was breathtakingly stupid and immature.

“It was deeply unpleasant.

“Miss Strong will not – and quite properly – work in this kind of environment ever again and any hope she had of a long-term career in this area of work has long gone.”

The other two defendants – Strong’s fellow care assistants at the home William Bowman, 21, of Bowscar, Penrith, and Chevonne Benson, 22, of Roman Road, Penrith – have yet to enter their pleas.

He faces 10 allegations of ill-treating or willfully neglecting nine elderly residents at the home, while Benson has been charged with seven counts of the same offence against six patients.

All the alleged victims are elderly, and suffering from dementia, the court heard.

The offences are alleged to have been committed on dates between January and September of last year.

Bowman also faces an additional charge that he committed a sexual offence against a woman in the Penrith area on January 26 last year.

Magistrates ruled they had insufficient power to appropriately sentence Strong, who spoke only to confirm her age, name, and address. She will be sentenced on March 7 at Carlisle Crown Court.

The other two defendants will appear before a judge at the same court on May 5 when they will be expected to enter their pleas.

On its website, the Beacon Edge home states that it offers a well equipped and safe environment for its residents.

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