A CARER at a Colne home allegedly put a plastic bag over an elderly dementia sufferer’s head as the pensioner sat on the toilet, a jury was told.
Burnley Crown Court heard Susan Larkin’s alleged conduct had left her colleague Sahra Suleman so shocked that she went into another cubicle at the Peel Gardens premises and broke down in tears.
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The hearing was told Larkin, 35, claims the allegation is malicious and has been made by other staff members because she stole some sunglasses at the home in 2012 and no action was taken by the management.
The defendant, of Bouldsworth Road, Burnley, denies ill-treatment of a person who lacks capacity, between March 17 and 26, last year.
Prosecutor Andrew Smith told the court there was no issue the alleged victim Celia Handley lacked capacity. At the time, she was a resident of the home, was in her seventies and was suffering from severe, progressed dementia.
On the day of the alleged incident, Larkin was working with Sahra Suleman and they took Mrs Handley to the toilet. There, the defendant allegedly placed the bag, the type used to dispose of incontinence pads, over the alleged victim's head.
Mr Smith told the jury: "It was there for a few seconds, but there is no question that if it happened, it amounted to ill -treatment. The real issue for you is whether or not it happened."
The prosecutor said the resident needed assistance from two carers to visit the bathroom. Sahra Suleman left the room briefly and when she came back the alleged victim was sitting on the toilet.
Mr Smith alleged: "Sahra Suleman saw Susan Larkin take a plastic bag, used for the disposal of incontinence pads, and place it, without warning, over the head of Celia Handley. She stepped back, as witnessed by Sahra Suleman and crossed her arms, leaving the bag in place. Sahra Suleman is not entirely sure, but thinks she may have laughed briefly before removing the bag from Celia Handley's head.
"She describes herself as being shocked. It was there a few brief seconds. She left the room and went to an adjoining cubicle, where she herself broke down in tears, no knowing what to do."
Mr Smith said some time the following week, Sahra Suleman, having considered what, if anything, she should say, confided in a colleague Wendy Davis.
Wendy Davis recalled that it was on April 1 that she was told by Sahra Suleman and she decided she would write a letter to her manager about it. It was dated April 5.
The letter was handed to Malcolm Rowley, the care home manager and he acted upon it. The defendant was suspended from work shortly after and police were informed. It appeared just before that disclosure, there had been a second disclosure relating to the defendant - the allegation of theft of a pair of sunglasses in 2012. The defendant accepted she stole the glasses in 2012. They had been left at the home by Rosemary Shaw when she had been visiting her elderly mother.
Mr Smith said: "It's the defendant's case that this ill-treatment allegation is a malicious one, as a direct result, following from the decision by the care home not to take action in relation to the sunglasses."
The prosecutor said Larkin was arrested over the allegation of Mrs Handley on April 10 last year and was interviewed. She denied any ill treatment of the alleged victim, outlined the incident involving the pair of sunglasses and suggested that may be a possible motive why other staff had made the allegation against her.