A CARE worker who was cleared by a jury yesterday of ill-treating elderly dementia patients has described his 15 months of hell.

Mark Taylor, who worked at Haslingden Lodge care home, Haslingden, broke down in tears when a jury announced they unanimously found him not guilty after a five day trial.

The 57-year-old has now vowed he will go back to doing the job he loves.

Speaking after the Burnley Crown Court hearing, Mr Taylor, of Stockbridge Road, Padiham, said: “I have been through hell the last 15 months. It has been destroying.

"But I have not lied and I would never hurt a soul."

It had been alleged that Mr Taylor slapped Mary Burke, who was known as Olive, on the bottom twice and told her to stand up straight as he helped her from a wheelchair and onto the toilet.

The former hairdresser was also accused of holding Ann Coombe in a ‘bear hug’, marching her down a corridor and pushing her into her bedroom when she behaved in a difficult way on two occasions.

Mr Taylor had originally been charged with three other counts of ill-treatment, but Judge Robert Altham had already instructed the jury to return not guilty verdicts on those counts as the defendant had no case to answer.

Mr Taylor had always denied all of the allegations.

It took the 12 jury members around 90 minutes to come to unanimous verdicts on the remaining three charges.

Speaking outside of court surrounded by friends, Mr Taylor said: “I am relieved.

“I was devastated when I head about the allegations.

“I was suspended, but I am not giving up the job that I love for anything.”

Mr Taylor, who has worked as a carer for 12 years, had previously told the court that the accusations had been made after he was offered a job as deputy manager at the Lancaster Avenue home, which is part of the Orchard Care Homes group.

He said another carer, Mary Moore had asked him why he had been in manager Jane Sefton’s office, but he refused to answer.

When she continued to push him for an answer, Mr Taylor said he and the manager had been discussing Mrs Moore’s work attitude, which caused her offence.

After the verdict, Mr Taylor said: “I did say something that I terribly regretted to a member of staff.

“I was there to put better quality care into the home that has had so much bad press.

“What was said hurt so much because I never hurt anybody.”

Mr Taylor said he was now planning to get back to being a carer. He said: “It means the world to me to be cleared.

“I look after my neighbours and people that I do not even work with.

“I do shopping for old ladies and I just love it.

“I have to go back to work, I just love my job.”

Anne Clancey, from Orchard Care Homes, said: “The employee will remain suspended while we undertake our own internal investigation.”