Carers left vulnerable Hereford man outside pub while they ate carvery, court hears

TWO care workers left a vulnerable man in their car while they went for a carvery meal at a pub, a court heard.

Andrea Smith, aged 45, and Tasmin Acaster, 44, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court to ill treatment of a person lacking capacity by neglect.

The court was told Smith and Acaster had given years of service caring for vulnerable adults but had “made a mistake” when they had left the 63- year-old man – who had learning difficulties and dementia – in their car.

Lisa Hennessy, prosecuting, said on December 8 last year Smith, of Newlands Road in Leominster, and Acaster, of Old School Lane in Hereford, took three patients from their care home in Hereford on a day out.

As a treat they went to the Toby Carvery at Over, near Gloucester.

The man had wet himself and it was decided to leave him in the car when the defendants went into the restaurant with the other two patients at around 5.30pm.

At around 6.15pm, the man was found by a member of the public “in a confused and agitated state”, said Mrs Hennessy. The police were called and social services alerted.

Virginia Cornwall, for Acaster, handed Judge Jamie Tabor QC a letter from her client that said she was “deeply upset” at the mistake she had made.

Ms Cornwall said she was “absolutely distraught” and was a caring person who had worked additional hours under pressure to look after vulnerable adults over a number of years.

She would never work in the caring profession again and was now out of work, said Ms Cornwall.

John Dyer, for Smith, said his client was distraught that she’d never work in the caring profession again, having devoted 13 years to caring.

She had lost everything because of one moment of bad judgement, he said.

The man could become violent if he did not want his clothes changed and that was the case on this occasion, he said.

They had all been to the restaurant before and asked staff if they could have a seat near the front where they could see the car park but this was not possible.

Judge Tabor said he did not underestimate the enormous difficulties of those who care for the elderly and vulnerable.

He accepted taking three patients for a special treat was difficult, he said.

“But you made a mistake – either one of you should have stayed in the car or you should have made sure he was visible,” he said.

Judge Tabor said both women had worked long term as carers and had excellent records.

He conditionally discharged Acaster and Smith for one year and ordered them to each pay £25 costs.

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