Limavady care assistant to be sentenced next week

Limavady Couthouse
Limavady Couthouse

A 43-years-old Limavady care assistant charged with wilful neglect of an 86-year-old patient is to be sentenced next week.

Joanne Doherty of 47, Anderson Crescent appeared at Limavady Magistrates Court accused of the charge relating to Eileen Bruce at Rush Hall Care Home on November 24, 2013.

The court heard police received the allegation on November 29; that on 25 November two care assistants who were attending to 86-years-old Mrs Bruce were told she had fallen in the presence of Doherty.

A GP examined Mrs Bruce and found a fractured left shoulder. Doherty, who had put Mrs Bruce to bed with another care assistant, said she had definitely not fallen.

On November 29, a third care assistant confided in a nurse that Mrs Bruce had fallen in the presence of Doherty.

On December 2, Doherty was suspended from work for failing to report the incident. She claimed that Mrs Bruce had not fallen, but may have slipped.

The court heard that Mrs Bruce had died on March 14.

The court heard Mrs Bruce told a care assistant (referring to the defendant) “that fat blood Annie dropped me or let me fall out of the bed”.

A care assistant, who has previously been convicted in connection to the case, said Doherty had asked her for help with Mrs Bruce and that when she went into the room she was told ‘you didn’t see her on the floor’. The court heard the assistant was too scared to report the incident and also felt Mrs Bruce was not her responsibility.

On January 12, when Doherty was interviewed she said she was on her own and made the decision to attend to Mrs Bruce and that was when Mrs Bruce fell on her. She said she didn’t report the incident because she felt Mrs Bruce hadn’t suffered too much.

The Prosecution said there appeared to have been a “conspiracy of silence decided upon at this time”.

Family members, including Mrs Bruce’s children were in court. The Prosecution said the family wanted to make the point there are good staff in Rush Hall and not all staff should be tarred with the one brush. However, the family felt a breach of trust had been betrayed. The Prosecution said the family found the whole situation very distressing. The passing of their mother in March meant that current proceedings was like “going through a second mourning period, that they were re-living it as such”.

Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin said Doherty offered an unambiguous apology to the family, and that she carries a heavy sense of guilt about what happened and that Mrs Bruce had since passed away.

Mr Devlin said that Doherty had “almost a child-like reaction” and that she did not go to work that day with the intention of doing anyone any harm. He said until this incident, Doherty - a former supermarket worker - was a model citizen. Mr Devlin also referred to Doherty suffering mind brain injuries.

District Judge Liam McNally adjourned sentencing until next week at Limavady Magistrates Court.